Queen Elizabeth II has been central to British life for longer than most of us have been alive. She’s been the linchpin of everything that has made our little kingdom great for the past 64 years and has never given us reason to feel anything but proud.
With her 90th birthday approaching, what better time to celebrate our longest-reigning monarch while sharing memories of her many visits to Sussex. We want to see your pictures and hear your memories of the day the Queen came to town.
Or perhaps you were lucky enough to meet her at another event such as one of the garden parties at Buckingham Palace. We also want to hear about any plans you have to celebrate her 90th birthday.
The Queen has made many visits to the Chichester area, including several to the Roussillon Barracks.
One such visit on March 10 1978, saw the military band play ‘Happy Birthday’ in honour of Prince Edward, who was celebrating his 14th birthday.
That same day saw her drop in at Chichester College of Technology before heading north to Horsham.
The weather did its best to put a dampener on an earlier visit to Chichester, shortly after Gala Day in 1956. The streets looked resplendent with their decorations until a severe gale the night before the Queen was due to arrive saw many of them blown down.
The visit was still a success when, accompanied by Prince Philip, she inspected a military guard of honour in Priory Park, and waved for the thousands of people who had turned out to see her.
On March 27 1986, the Queen attended the Maundy Service in Chichester Cathedral before distributing Maundy Money.
Her arrival was heralded by Beef Eaters and greeted by hundreds of spectators armed with Union Jacks. She posed for photographs outside the cathedral with four lucky schoolchildren.
Those who couldn’t make it to the Cathedral were treated to the sight of a Royal walkabout in North Street.
West Sussex has been a popular destination for the Queen.
She officially opened the revamped and extended Gatwick Airport on June 9 1958; visited Durrington High School, Worthing, on March 26 1999; she opened the Triangle Leisure Centre, in Burgess Hill, in 1999 and wowed the crowds at the South of England Show in 1984 and 2002.
You can email your pictures and accounts of your memories of the day you saw the Queen to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Or write to the Chichester Observer, Suite 3 First Floor, City Gates, 2-4 Southgate, Chichester PO19 8DJ.
Don’t forget to tell us about any plans you may have to celebrate her 90th birthday.
Whether you will be holding a street party or simply raising a glass or two in the pub, we want to hear about it.
Big plans for Her Majesty’s big day
One thing the UK does well is throw a right royal knees-up. We celebrated the Queen’s Coronation in 1952, when she took to the throne at the tender age of 25; we held street parties galore for her Silver Jubilee in 1977 and the Golden Jubilee in 2002.
We did the same thing for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and there will no doubt be celebrations on a massive scale in 2022 when she becomes the first monarch to reach the impressive Platinum Jubilee, at the grand old age of 95.
Given the Queen Mother lived to be 101, the smart money should be on Her Majesty making that platinum milestone with ease.
There are big plans in place to celebrate her 90th birthday. While the day itself falls on April 21, a four-night pageant will be held at Windsor Castle from Thursday May 12 to Sunday May 15, celebrating her life, her loves of horses, her dedication to the Commonwealth and international affairs and her deep involvement with the Navy, Army and Air Force.
A 90-minute spectacular planned for the Sunday will be televised on ITV from around 8.30pm and will include 900 horses and more than 1,500 participants from around the UK and the World. It will take viewers on a journey from the Queen’s birth in Bruton Street, Mayfair, in 1926, through to World War Two, when, refusing to allow her daughters to be evacuated to Canada, her mother famously said: “The children won’t go without me. I won’t leave without the King. And the King will never leave.”
It will cover her marriage in Westminster Abbey in 1947 to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten; her return to the Abbey for her Coronation on June 2 1953; and her reign of more than 60 years.
The festivities will not end there. The birthday girl and the Duke of Edinburgh will attend a National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday June 10. She will then be joined by other members of the Royal Family at The Queen’s Birthday Parade on Horse Guards Parade on Saturday June 11.
The long weekend will finish on Sunday June 12 with a Patron’s Lunch - a celebration of Her Majesty’s patronage of more than 600 organisations in the UK and around the Commonwealth since 1952.
That’s a hectic schedule for anyone half her age.
At a more local level, several councils have signed up for the lighting of a 90th birthday beacon. So far, Crawley, Burgess Hill, Northiam, Hunston, Uckfield, Winchelsea, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton have pledged to do the honours in Sussex.
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