Her Majesty The Queen and Prince Philip visited Royal Holloway on Friday morning to celebrate the Department of Music’s outstanding standard of teaching and research.
As Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived at the Founder’s Building, they waved to the large cheering crowds, which included students from the university, local residents, and school children from Englefield Green Infant school and Thorpe Lea Primary School.
The Royal pair were then greeted by Dame Sarah Goad, Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Councillor David Munro, MP of Runnymede and Weybridge Philip Hammond, and Runnymede mayor Cllr Yvonna Lay.
During the visit, The Queen presented the University of London college with the award for the Diamond Jubilee Professorship of Music.
The award of the Regius Professorship dates back to the sixteenth century; although it is an extremely rare award, with only two being presented in the past century. This visit also marked the first time that a department of music has been given the honour. The Principal of the college, Professor Paul Layzell, said: “It is a great honour that our Department of Music has been given such world-class recognition, confirming its position as one of the best in the country.”
The ceremony for the award was held in the Royal Holloway chapel, where the college’s choir performed for The Queen and Prince Philip as they entered the chapel. Afterwards, the Duke took his time speaking to the staff from the music department and some of the choir members. Her Majesty then revealed a commemorative plaque and attended a reception in the Victorian picture gallery, where she met students and lecturers from the college.
When in the picture gallery, The Queen spoke to the college curator, Dr Laura MacCulloch, about the ‘Princes in the Tower’ painting, which hangs in the gallery alongside other Victorian works of art.
The administration manager of Founders Library, Sally Cauldwell, said that Her Majesty asked her “is the library well used?” and commented that it is “good to hear they are all still reading” when they discussed how the university libraries are open 24/7.
The Queen successfully signed the visitors’ book in the picture gallery after two fountain pens failed to work, and a nearby photographer stepped in to hand her a ballpoint pen to use.
Her Majesty and Prince Philip left the college just after noon, and waved to the crowds once more before departing, while the college staff and guests had a celebratory lunch after their leaving.
The head of the music department, Professor Stephen Downes, said that the visit was a “huge honour for the department’s accomplishments over the past ten to twenty years.” He continued by saying: “The Queen was very engaging and very interested in what we are doing.”
Since Queen Victoria officially opened Royal Holloway in 1886, the college has had a long history of connections with the Royal Family. Princess Anne is currently the Chancellor of the University of London, while Queen Elizabeth II’s last visit to the college in 1986 was to celebrate the merging of Royal Holloway College and Bedford New College. It was during this visit that The Queen opened the new building for Earth Sciences.
Photo credits: (c) Jessica Hope