The following is the Loyal Address that has been sent to Her Majesty the Queen by Susan Pyper, HM Lord-Lieutenant for West Sussex
On behalf of the people of West Sussex it is my great privilege to send loyal greetings on the occasion of your 90th birthday.
Our county has enjoyed a long tradition of welcoming reigning monarchs over the course of many centuries, a tradition
Your Majesty has continued so extensively that we feel certain that your visits, both official and private, must have exceeded those of any previous royal forebear.
The first reported occasion that Your Majesty visited the county was in 1929 when you spent two weeks by the seaside near Bognor, visiting your grandfather, King George V, at Craigweil House, where he was convalescing from his serious illness. You were just under three and a great tonic to both the King and Queen at this anxious time. Queen Mary wrote in her diary that she played in the garden with you ‘making sand pies’. To this day we remember this notable visit as its recuperative effects were so beneficial that your grandfather graciously conferred the royal suffix to Bognor – Bognor Regis.
Two years later, in 1931, Your Majesty returned to the county as a bridesmaid when you were five, attending the wedding at Balcombe of Lady May Cambridge, niece of Queen Mary. Photographs show you arriving well-wrapped up in a fur coat against the blustery October weather.
Your Majesty’s lifelong love of horses has brought you to West Sussex on many occasions. Your first triumph was at Fontwell Park in 1949 when Monaveen, owned jointly with your mother, Queen Elizabeth but ridden under your own colours, romped to victory by fifteen lengths in the Chichester Handicap Steeplechase, conferring on this racecourse the honour of being the first on which your colours were carried to victory. To this day, Monaveen is rated as one of the best horses ever to run on this jump course.
Three months later, in 1950, Your Majesty returned to the county to open the Manor Royal Industrial Estate in Crawley, a vital part of the newly-designated New Town. Afterwards you planted a maple tree in the town centre, the gift of the Canadian government to commemorate the billeting of its troops here during the Second World War. Your Majesty opened Courtlands Recovery Hospital in Worthing and visited the Mayor at the Town Hall in 1951. Two unrehearsed moments caught the attention of the local press. Two mothers with their babies were presented at the hospital. Both babies grabbed at your bouquet and ‘it was only with some difficulty that they were persuaded to relinquish their grip’. A few minutes later yet another bouquet found itself in the news, this time when pupils at a local school lined the route for the royal procession en route to meet the Mayor. On police orders the girls were told not to halt the progress of the royal car – the timetable was to be strictly observed – but on its approach, the head girl moved forward from the pavement. Seeing her movement you graciously stopped the car and received the school’s bouquet, much to the girls’ pleasure and no doubt a stern admonition from the police! In 1952, at Shipley, you attended the marriage of Commander Peter Ashmore, Your Majesty’s Extra Equerry, to Miss Patricia Buller, daughter of Admiral Sir Henry Buller, a former Commander of Royal Yachts. In the same year Your Majesty visited Glorious Goodwood – the first sovereign to do so for nearly a quarter of a century – when your horse, Gay Times, ridden by Gordon Richards and carrying the royal colours, memorably made your first victory on this course.
Throughout the 1950s, Your Majesty honoured Goodwood and the Duke and Duchess of Richmond with your presence when you had the pleasure of seeing Landau win the Sussex Stakes in 1954, Almeria, an outstanding filly, winning the Bentinck Stakes in 1957, and Above Suspicion winning the Gordon Stakes in 1959.
These visits to Goodwood gave Your Majesty the opportunity to visit Cowdray Park on a number of occasions to watch HRH The Duke of Edinburgh play polo, and in 1955 to inspect the nearby Lavington Stud owned by Major and Mrs Reginald Macdonald-Buchanan.
During race week the following year, in 1956, Your Majesty honoured the city of Chichester when you attended the dedication of the Sailors’ Chapel in the cathedral to commemorate those who lost their lives in the Second World War and have no known grave. The euphoria throughout the city was overwhelming, the mayor saying it was the most wonderful day of their lives, so enjoyable that the day ‘went like an express train’. The following day Your Majesty visited the King Edward vii Sanatorium at Midhurst in its golden jubilee year, founded by Sir Ernest Cassel, grandfather of Countess Edwina Mountbatten. The local press reported that you were particularly impressed by the art therapy classes devised to aid patients in their recovery, pioneered at Midhurst by artist-broadcaster Adrian Hill. Goodwood House is proud to record that during horse-racing week you held three Privy Council meetings in 1953, 1955 and 1957.
In 1958 Your Majesty reopened the greatly enlarged Gatwick Airport, now the first airport in the world to combine air, mainline rail and trunk-road interchange facilities, before travelling to Crawley for your second official visit to this developing New Town. Here you graciously opened the new Crawley College of Further Education and then opened Queen’s Square at the heart of the new shopping precinct. After touring the New Town Your Majesty visited Ardingly College whose centenary was being celebrated that year.
It was during Goodwood Week that Your Majesty and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh honoured Chichester Festival Theatre with your presence: in 1962, the theatre’s opening year, to see Laurence Olivier and Sybil Thorndike in Uncle Vanya, and to see Olivier and Derek Jacobi in Othello in 1964. In this year Your Majesty also visited nearby raf Thorney Island to commemorate the 21st anniversary of Transport Command. Throughout the 1960s Your Majesty continued to make annual visits to Goodwood, often staying as the guest of the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk at Arundel. There were more royal victories in 1965 when Apprentice won the Goodwood Cup and Eucumbene the Strettington Stakes. Gaulois won the Goodwood Cup in 1966. In 1969 when visiting Cowdray Park for the polo Your Majesty was pleased to present HRH The Duke of Edinburgh with the Cowdray Gold Cup when his team, Windsor Park, beat Pimms, the holders, 7–6 in the final. During the event, hrh fell from his pony, but the local newspaper reported that he ‘was not injured and grinned triumphantly when he received the coveted trophy from the Queen’. Later that year Your Majesty paid a third visit to Crawley New Town when you came to open Holy Trinity School, Gossops Green, the first purpose-built Church of England comprehensive school in the country.
The 1970s saw further visits to Goodwood, with Charlton winning the Predominate Stakes in 1970 and Westward Ho in the Stonehill Handicap in 1971.
In 1973 Your Majesty opened the new medical research institute at Midhurst, built in the grounds of King Edward v11 Hospital, of which Your Majesty was President. Your Majesty was met by the 16th Duke of Norfolk, Lord-Lieutenant of Sussex, who was the last holder of that office, the separate Lieutenancies of East and West Sussex being created in 1974. Poor weather at the South of England Show in 1974 did not prevent Your Majesty driving into the main arena in an open Victoria pulled by two Windsor greys, and presenting the supreme dairy award to Mrs J. McPhail of Coolham whose husband had won it with his prize Ayrshire cow. In 1978, accompanied by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Your Majesty paid your first official visit to the Royal Military Police Corps in Chichester since becoming its Colonel-in-Chief the previous year. Your Majesty observed various exercises and then took lunch in the officers’ mess ‘dining on avocado pear stuffed with prawns, roast lamb and “rmp pudding”, a bombe Alaska’. After lunch Your Majesty drove to Horsham to visit the school which bears your name, the Queen Elizabeth II School, completed in Your Majesty’s Silver Jubilee year in 1977, and also Forest Boys’ School, where you gave the school a personally signed portrait of yourself which the school still treasures.
The Royal Maundy Service was held in Sussex for the first time in its history in 1986. Accompanied by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Your Majesty distributed Maundy coins in Chichester Cathedral to 60 men and 60 women, representing 60 years of Your Majesty’s life. Two years later, in 1988, Your Majesty opened the new North Terminal at Gatwick Airport. It was a great day for Mr Freddie Pringle, who, with other employees, was invited to tea with Your Majesty. ‘I was with the builders in 1958, finishing off the new terminal when the Queen came to open it and soon after I joined the airport staff. Now, just a couple of weeks before I retire, the Queen came again, and I had tea with her.’
In 1990 Your Majesty visited the Royal Military Police Training Centre in Chichester where you saw the scene of a simulated murder and were treated to a dramatic show of battle skills by the Redcaps’ mounted display team. The local newspaper reported that Your Majesty ‘looked warm and colourful in a parma-violet coat and suit, with a matching broad-brimmed velvet hat. She was wearing the Corps’ brooch.’
Hundreds welcomed Your Majesty as you toured the King Edward vii Hospital at Midhurst in 1991. ‘Nearly every corridor was lined by excited nurses and staff in a state of starched perfection, proudly prepared for the royal inspection.’
In 1999, Your Majesty visited Durrington High School, Worthing, which acted as a venue to showcase everything positive about West Sussex, and where a wide range of representatives from the business and caring sectors had been invited. This visit marked the retirement of Your Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for West Sussex, Major-General Sir Philip Ward, former Commandant of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Your Majesty and hrh The Duke of Edinburgh then went on to Burgess Hill where thousands lined the streets to see Your Majesty when you opened The Triangle Leisure and Conference Centre and the Town Council’s Help Point.
As Patron of the South of England Agricultural Society, Your Majesty has visited the Society’s flagship summer show at Ardingly on several occasions, including in your Golden Jubilee year, 2002. The following year, in 2003, Your Majesty visited Christ’s Hospital, the famous Bluecoat school near Horsham, of which Your Majesty has been Patron since 1953. The school was celebrating 450 years of royal patronage since its foundation by King Edward vi in 1553. The headmaster, Dr Peter Southern, said ‘it was a great honour for Christ’s Hospital to receive the Queen. The pupils, staff and trustees much enjoyed welcoming her and providing a glimpse of the very special opportunities given to children from all walks of life at Christ’s Hospital.’
From here Your Majesty then visited Horsham Town Centre, 25 years since your last visit, to mark the conclusion of the town’s redevelopment programme. Gary Shipton, Editor-in-Chief of the County Times reported that ‘The streets of Horsham were packed with well-wishers cheering Her Majesty throughout her day in the town. It was the culmination of an extraordinarily exciting and creative period for Horsham. The Queen seemed hugely impressed by everything she saw and everyone she met.’
Finally, in 2006, Your Majesty and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh helped commemorate Crawley’s 60th anniversary as a New Town when you returned once again. Hundreds of people were entertained by the Crawley Millennium Concert Band before Your Majesty and HRH arrived amid glorious sunshine to be met by civic leaders. Later Your Majesty and HRH drove the short distance to Crawley Mall shopping centre and then visited Thomas Bennett Community College. His Royal Highness went on alone to visit Carey House sheltered-housing project and Varian Medical Systems, one of the many high-tech firms that thrive in Crawley. In ending this tribute to your long associations with our county it is fitting to record that Your Majesty’s lifelong love of horse racing has been marked by recent successes on our racecourses. Fontwell, scene of your first success in 1949, saw Barbers Shop win the Whitelaw Challenge Cup in 2012, yet another win for Barbers Shop at the Thoroughbred Show Horse Championships at Hickstead in 2013, and Dartmouth, the 9/4 favourite, out-manoeuvring the field at Goodwood with an impressive two-length victory in 2015. We are proud that Your Majesty has visited West Sussex so many times during the course of your long life and reign. On behalf of your 800,000 subjects in this very special county, it is my great pleasure to wish Your Majesty a very happy birthday.