On 21 April this year the Queen reaches her 90th birthday. To mark this royal occasion a range of events have been organised during April, May and June. Among those for 20-22 April will be the unveiling of the Queen’s Walkway—a 4-mile route in Windsor that commemorates her achievement as Britain’s longest reigning monarch—and the lighting of a chain of 1,000 beacons both across the UK and worldwide.
The University of Southampton was the first higher education institution to be granted university status in the reign of Elizabeth II and the Queen succeeded Lord Mountbatten as Visitor to the newly created university. It was not until 1966, however, that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh made a formal visit to the University.
The visit on the afternoon of 15 July started with a look around an exhibition of kinetic art. This was followed by a brief tour of the Nuffield Theatre to explore the new auditorium space. The party then crossed to the senior common room. From here there was an opportunity to view some of the new university buildings that had just been completed. The royal party also met members of staff and were shown an exhibition of the work of the Departments of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Institute of Sound and Vibration, Oceanography and Civil Engineering and Electronics.
The following year, in November 1967, the University again played host to royalty when the Duke of Edinburgh gave the Fourteenth Fawley Lecture. The lecture focused on the evolution of human organisations: a printed copy of this lecture can be found in the University Collection in Open Access Special Collections in the Hartley Library.
The University has hosted various royal visits and occasions over its history, from the opening of Highfield Hall by the Queen’s father, the Duke of York and future George VI to, most recently, the Duchess of Cornwall attendance at a special graduation ceremony where she was awarded a honorary doctorate. Undoubtedly there will be many more royal occasions to come…