Remembering Queen Elizabeth II: Hertfordshire reflects on Her Majesty’s life of service

(Credit: Rothamsted Research)

Over the past week the nation has come together to mourn the death of Queen Elizabeth II. 

Since Wednesday (14 September) evening thousands have queued across London for the lying-in-state of Britain’s longest reigning monarch at Westminster Hall. 

Throughout her 70-year reign the Queen visited Hertfordshire on numerous occasions, touching the lives of the many people she met across the county. 

As the country now prepares for Monday’s (19 September) state funeral, we reflect on the late sovereign’s legacy and some of her past visits to Hertfordshire. 

Often known as the “Queen of Herts”, Her Majesty’s connection to the home county arose from her familial ties with St Paul’s Walden. 

The village around five miles south of Hitchin is home to the Bowes-Lyon family, where Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother grew up.

Appointed in 2017, The Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire Robert Voss CBE CStJ, is the monarch’s official representative in the ceremonial county.

Paying tribute to the late Queen, The Lord-Lieutenant said: “It is with a very heavy heart that we learn of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – the world’s greatest queen.

“As well as being the longest reigning British Monarch – Her Majesty was also the longest reigning female monarch in world history.

“In 1947 at the age of just 21 the young Princess Elizabeth promised to dedicate her life – “be it long or short” to the service of her people.

“How she lived up to that promise every day of her long life over the last 75 plus years. 

“A life of service, devotion and duty as head of a state, the nation and the Commonwealth of over 2.5 billion people was witnessed across the globe during her many visits both around the UK and overseas and it is fair to say that she was loved and revered by all. 

“She was a symbol of stability through decades in which the world has seen a great many changes.”

Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire Robert Voss CBE CStJ, signing books of condolence in the county (Credit: The Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire/Twitter)

Robert Voss CBE CStJ, continued: “Hertfordshire was well known to Her Majesty as her Mother’s family live in the north of the county and indeed my predecessor is Sir Simon Bowes-Lyon-her first cousin… and she had many fond memories of her time spent in Hertfordshire.

“She was a regular visitor to the county from the very beginning of her reign – her last visit being in 2016 to Berkhamsted School – of which she was Patron – where thousands of local people turned out to welcome their Queen.

“I had the honour and privilege to meet the Queen on several occasions and on each she made me laugh with her wicked sense of humour at the same time as her sharp mind focused on the most poignant issues of the day.

“Approximately 85% of the British population have only ever known one monarch in their lives and what a privilege it has been to be able to have called this great lady “Our Queen”.

“It has been the greatest honour of my life to have been appointed Her Majesty’s personal representative and to have served a truly great monarch.

“My thoughts and sincerest condolences go to King Charles and all the Royal Family and may “Our Queen” rest in eternal peace.”

On 6 May 2016 Queen Elizabeth II became the first reigning monarch to visit Berkhamsted School. 

Her Late Majesty had been invited in her capacity as Patron to mark the school’s 475th anniversary. 

The Queen visiting Berkhamsted School in 2016 (Credit: Adam Hollier)

Reflecting on the historical visit, Principal of Berkhamsted Schools Group, Mr Richard Backhouse, said: “Governors, staff, pupils and parents of Berkhamsted Schools Group were deeply saddened to hear the news of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

“In 2016, we were fortunate to receive a visit from Her Late Majesty in her role as Patron of the School.

All involved were struck at her evident interest in those around her, her lively sense of humour and her care for the thriving and wellbeing of young people. 

“Both during the visit and from her public life, we saw Her Late Majesty live out a life which was entirely in line with our values – to aim high with integrity, be adventurous and serve others. 

“The entire school community can count itself fortunate to have been ruled and served by a monarch whose example of courage, integrity, service and kindness was evident to all.”

(Credit: Berkhamsted School/Instagram)

Over the decades the Queen visited St Albans Cathedral on four occasions – including 20 July 1952 where she attended Evensong following her accession to the throne, five months previously.

Five years later on 18 April 1957, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh paid a symbolic visit to distribute the Royal Maundy.

It was the first time in over 200 years that the ancient ceremony had taken place outside of London. 

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh attending the Royal Maundy service at St Albans Cathedral in 1957 (Credit: St Albans Cathedral)

In June 1982 the Queen returned once more to open the new Chapter House. Jubilant crowds lined the streets for Her Late Majesty’s walkabout through the city centre.

Her Late Majesty on a walkabout as part of a visit to St Albans Cathedral in 1982 (Credit: St Albans Cathedral)

The monarch's last visit to the Abbey took place on 14 March 2003, where she marked the successful Cathedral Campaign. 

Dean of St Albans, The Very Reverend Jo Kelly-Moore, said: “The community of St Albans Cathedral joins with the people of the United Kingdom, Commonwealth and beyond in giving thanks to God for the life, witness and service of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.   

“In each of the Queen’s four visits to the Abbey her Christian faith and her support for this holy and ancient place will always be remembered. 

“At this time of mourning across this land and the world it is the Queen’s deep commitment to service and care for those she served which also inspires us again to consider how we live our lives. 

“We know also that service was founded on her faith, at the heart of which is the truth of resurrection life.

“As we give thanks to God for our Queen, so we pray now also for God’s comfort and support for her family at this very sad time.” 

In July 1993 the Queen came to Harpenden for the 150th anniversary of Rothamsted Research. Her Majesty who had agreed to become Patron of the institute toured the buildings and farm.

The Queen in Harpenden for the 150th anniversary of Rothamsted Research (Credit: Rothamsted Research)

Commenting on the lasting impact of the Queen's royal visit, Director and CEO of Rothamsted Research, Angela Karp, said: “We [Rothamsted Research] have had the great pleasure of meeting many members of the Royal family in person over the years, all of whom have shown great interest in our research as we strive for a more sustainable farming future. 

“A highlight was the Queen’s visit in 1993 to commemorate our 150th anniversary.

“At that time Professor Trevor Lewis was Director and I was a mid-career scientist furiously cheering in the background.

“The excitement and pride such encounters generate is long-lasting and impossible to express adequately.

“They are highlights in our world of research that bring smiles and elevate spirits. 

“What might in reality be a few moments of time, is remembered and talked about throughout people’s lives. 

As our Patron, her Majesty has bestowed upon us the greatest honour, together with the Royal family, of bringing such precious memories our way."

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