In memory of Her Majesty’s many visits to Sussex

WHILE family history links Queen Elizabeth to many of Sussex’s aristocrats, it was her ability to connect with those living in the county that brought her so much affection.

Her Majesty has been a welcome visitor to the county since childhood. One of her earliest visits was in 1929 when Elizabeth, almost three years old, visited Bognor to see her grandfather, King George V, who was recovering from an illness. He later gave Bognor the royal suffix – Bognor Regis – in gratitude.

In 1931 a young Elizabeth attended the wedding of Lady May Cambridge at Balcombe.

In March 1936, when she was nine, she spent a month’s holiday with her family at Compton Place in Eastbourne.

It was one of the family’s last private holidays, as Elizabeth’s father was propelled to the throne in December of that year following the abdication crisis.

The war brought the young princess back to Sussex. Just a month before D-Day, in May 1944, the 22-year-old Hove paid a secret visit to inspect two battalions of the Grenadier Guards in her capacity as colonel.

In the closing months of World War II the following year, she returned to inspected members of the ATS at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton.

In 1950 Elizabeth became godmother to the son of Major Roger Hall and his wife of Glebe House, West Grinstead, at a christening at St George’s Parish Church in the village.

Three months later Her Majesty returned to the county to open the Manor Royal Industrial Estate in Crawley, part of the newly designated New Town.

By 1951, King George VI’s health was declining and Princess Elizabeth was increasingly representing him in public office.

One of her most popular visits was a two-day tour of Sussex in May 1951 during the Festival of Britain when she “took Hastings”.

According to newspaper reports, she won the hearts and minds of “thousands of admirers” for her “graceful and endearing personality.”

Princess Elizabeth also opened the Courtlands Recovery Hospital in Worthing and visited the Mayor at City Hall in the same year.

In 1952 she attended the wedding of Commander Peter Ashmore, Her Majesty’s Extra Equerry, at Shipley.

That same year, Elizabeth Glorious was visiting Goodwood when her horse, Gay Times, won her first victory on the course.

King George VI died the following February, Elizabeth famously hearing of his death while on tour in Kenya with Philip.

Her coronation in June 1953 was a spectacular occasion, Elizabeth resplendent in a gown designed by Norman Hartnell, the legendary royal couturier whose early life was spent at Hassocks.

The newly crowned Queen became the most traveled head of state in history, but in her coronation year she came to Sussex for the Coronation Cup at Cowdray Park, England’s first major international post-war tournament.

Her Majesty visited the King Edward VII Sanatorium in Midhurst in 1956.

In 1958 she reopened the much expanded Gatwick Airport, now the first airport to combine air, mainline rail and intercity transfer facilities, before traveling to Crawley on her second official visit.

After touring the New Town, she visited Ardingly College, which was celebrating its centenary this year.

The Argus: 1962: Queen and Prince Philip attend Brighton College1962: Queen and Prince Philip attend Brighton College

Four years later, in 1962, she came to Sussex to open the George Street Renovation Program in Hove.

Controversially, a group of “unruly mothers” from Portslade were so determined that their children would see the Queen that they took their children out of school for half a day.

“It’s very hard for the parents,” a headmistress was quoted as saying.

“Her loyalty to the school is challenged by her loyalty to the Queen. I suppose her loyalty to the Queen has won.”

It was reported that the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh “made every effort to meet people” during the visit, with several thousand people breaking through a police cordon at Hove Town Hall to welcome them in their glass-roofed royal car .

She also attended Brighton College that same year and opened a library at the University of Sussex in 1964.

The Argus: Elizabeth II attended Sussex University in 1964Elizabeth II attended Sussex University in 1964

To commemorate the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, the Queen undertook another tour of Sussex in 1966, visiting Battle, Rye, Winchelsea, Hastings – Bexhill, of course, and Eastbourne.

Another of the many Sussex landmarks that Her Majesty officially opened was the £1million Isaac Newton Telescope at the Royal Greenwich Observatory in Herstmonceux in 1967.

The Argus: Isaac Newton Telescope at the Royal Greenwich Observatory in Herstmonceux in 1967Isaac Newton Telescope at the Royal Greenwich Observatory in Herstmonceux in 1967

Four years later, in 1971, the Queen made history by becoming the first monarch to visit Haywards Heath to visit the international headquarters of the Royal Commonwealth Society For The Blind, now Sightsavers.

Accompanied by Prince Philip, she attended the Royal Marine Corps in Chichester in 1978, as well as the Queen Elizabeth II School and the Forest Boys’ School in Horsham.

Her Majesty opened Brighton’s own marina in 1979 and was gifted a model boat. She later visited Brighton Racecourse to watch her own horse racing.

The Argus: 1979: Queen opens Brighton Marina1979: Queen opens Brighton Marina

The Royal Maundy Service was first held in Sussex in 1986 and the Queen attended Chichester Cathedral.

In 1988 she opened the new North Terminal at Gatwick Airport.

In 1990, the Queen visited the Royal Military Police Training Center in Chichester.

The Argus: 1999: Attended Durrington High School1999: Attended Durrington High School

In 1999 HRH attended Durrington High School, Worthing. She and Prince Philip then moved on to Burgess Hill where they opened The Triangle Leisure and the Town Council’s Help Point.

The Argus: The Queen at the South of England Show in 2002The Queen at the South of England Show in 2002

In the year of her Golden Jubilee in 2002, the Queen returned to the South of England Show, of which she was Patron.

In 2006, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh helped celebrate Crawley’s 60th anniversary as a New Town.

The Argus: Queen at Whitehawk in 2007Queen at Whitehawk in 2007

One of her last visits to the county was in 2007 when Her Majesty and Prince Philip arrived in Brighton by train and embarked on a tour including stops at the Theater Royal, the Jubilee Library, The Dome and the racecourse.

They also visited Whitehawk’s Roundabout Children’s Center, where she met hundreds of residents.

One of her last visits to our county was in October 2013 when Her Majesty and her husband visited Newhaven’s Fishmongers, Harvey’s Brewery in Lewes, a youth hostel in Beddingham and The Keep Archive in Moulsecoomb.

The Argus: The Queen at Newhaven in 2013The Queen at Newhaven in 2013

Her last visit was in November 2017 when she visited the Chichester Festival Theater to see a performance by the Chichester Festival Youth Theater and songs by Fiddler on the Roof.

With every royal visit over the years, people have turned out in their hundreds to see our well-loved Queen.

Get in touch and tell us about your experience at Her Majesty in Sussex. In memory of Her Majesty’s many visits to Sussex

Fry Electronics Team

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