The Platinum Jubilee: A look at the Queen’s visits to South West Hertfordshire

Credit: St Albans Cathedral.

On 6 February this year Queen Elizabeth II became the first monarch in British history to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee.

For the past three days local communities from across South West Hertfordshire have come together to mark Her Majesty’s 70 years of service.

Throughout that time the Queen has visited Hertfordshire on several occasions.

Often known as the “Queen of Herts” in the county, Her Majesty’s connection with the region 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 the Queen Mother grew up.

Now as the country celebrates the final day of the Platinum Jubilee weekend, Vibe 107.6 FM explores some of the Queen’s past royal visits to South West Hertfordshire.

On 20 July 1952, Queen Elizabeth II came to the new post war town of Hemel Hempstead to lay the foundation stone of St Barnabas Church in Adeyfield.

Queen Elizabeth II on a visit to Hemel Hempstead in 1952. Credit: Dacorum Borough Council.

The royal engagement was Her Majesty’s first official visit to Hertfordshire after her accession to the throne, five months previously.

Whilst in Hemel Hempstead the monarch visited The Square in Adeyfield (later renamed The Queen’s Square), as well as the home of a local family.

The Queen leaving the home of a local family during her 1952 of Hemel Hempstead. Credit: Dacorum Borough Council.

The Queen later drove to St Albans Cathedral to attend Evensong, making this the first visit by a reigning monarch for 500 years.

Her Majesty then returned to South West Hertfordshire in 1954 to open a new hangar at Salisbury Hall – the site of the de Havilland Aircraft Museum in London Colney.

On 18 April 1957, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh paid a symbolic visit to St Albans Cathedral to distribute the Royal Maundy.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh outside St Albans Cathedral in 1957. Credit: St Albans Cathedral.

It was the first time in over 200 years that the ancient ceremony had taken place outside of London. The Royal Maundy money was distributed to 62 people (31 men and 31 women) across the diocese. 

The Queen in 1957 at St Albans Cathedral for the Royal Maundy Service. Credit: St Albans Cathedral.

Over two decades later and Her Majesty The Queen continued to visit South West Hertfordshire, laying the foundation stone to Parmiter’s School in Garston on 11 December 1981.

In 1982 the Queen returned to St Albans Cathedral once more to open the new Chapter House. Jubilant crowds lined the streets during Her Majesty’s walkabout through the city centre.

Crowds gather in St Albans for the Queen’s visit in 1982. Credit: St Albans Cathedral.

The following decade saw the Queen visit Harpenden in July 1993 for the 150th anniversary of Rothamsted Research Institute.

Her Majesty who had agreed to become patron of the institution toured the buildings and farm, as well as planting an oak tree nearby.

Queen Elizabeth II’s last royal visit to Hertfordshire took place on 6 May 2016, when the monarch was invited in her capacity as patron to mark the 475th anniversary of Berkhamsted School.

On arrival, Her Majesty inspected a Guard of Honour formed by the school’s Combined Cadet Force. The school’s younger students also stood poised at the side of the lawn, holding their Union Jack flags.

Credit: Dacorum Borough Council/Twitter.

Whilst at Berkhamsted School, the monarch watched displays celebrating various aspects of school life, including a performance by pupils from their production of The Lion King.

Before leaving Berkhamsted the Queen also visited the parish church of St Peter’s to see the restoration of the Coat of Arms of Elizabeth I, and unveiled a new board in celebration of her Diamond Jubilee.

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