The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee 2022
Queen Elizabeth II is the first British Monarch to celebrate 70 years of service. Her reign is already longer than the reigns of her four predecessors put together. To mark the Platinum Jubilee weekend, we thought we would share some items from University Collections that highlight the connections between the Queen and the local town and University, and the collections we care for.
Queen Elizabeth succeeded to the throne on 6 February 1952 on the death of her father, King George VI.
The Royal Burgh of St Andrews organised a proclamation ceremony on the 9 February 1952, held at the Market Cross, Market Street. The gathering of town residents to hear the proclamation from members of the Town Council was captured by George Cowie (image above).
George Cowie was a local St Andrews man who was a noted press photographer, covering events in St Andrews and the local Fife area. His collection is held by the University’s Libraries and Museums. This image is from a glass plate negative.
The coronation of Elizabeth II was held on the 2 June 1953 in Westminster Abbey. The Burgh of St Andrews hosted a programme of activities to celebrate the occasion, including a children’s fancy dress parade at Madras College, children’s races at Cockshaugh Park, Trooping the Colour ceremony at the Town Hall and a golf tournament.
In the University Collections there is a souvenir programme of the town’s celebrations (ms38844).
Valentine’s of Dundee produced a souvenir photographic postcard to commemorate the coronation, with images of the royal residences. The extensive photographic archive of Valentine’s is held by the University and will be celebrated with a forthcoming exhibition at the V&A, Dundee (https://www.vam.ac.uk/dundee/exhibitions/sincerely-valentines).
The 25th anniversary of Queen’s Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne was celebrated in 1977.
Within the institutional archive, there is a letter dated 27 May 1977 to be sent on behalf of the university, to Elizabeth II, pledging allegiance and loyalty on the occasion of her Silver Jubilee (UYUY179). This follows the tradition of the University making a loyal address on significant national occasions.
2002 marked the 50th Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. Recently, the University acquired the photographic archive of Scottish photographer Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert.
Sutton-Hibbert was commissioned to document the Golden Jubilee celebrations. The work has been published as a zine, Queen’s Golden Jubilee Scotland 2002.
The Queen and the University
The Queen has been a regular visitor to St Andrews during her reign, continuing the very strong association between her mother and the University. This dates back to 1929 when Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, then Duchess of York, was awarded an honorary degree at the opening of the University’s graduation hall.
When Queen Elizabeth II was visiting Queen’s College, Dundee (then part of the University of St Andrews) in June 1955, four medical students spontaneously used their gowns as a carpet for the Queen in the rain. In the news coverage of the time, the headline read: ‘Students play “Raleigh” for the Queen’, referring to the tradition of Sir Walter Raleigh having placed his cloak over a puddle for Queen Elizabeth I.
In another visit to the town of St Andrews in July 1982, Queen Elizabeth II was presented with a miniature red gown by John Anderson, then President of the Students Representative Council, in honour of the recent birth of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge the previous month – very far-sighted of the University community, given that he went on to wear the scarlet gown as an undergraduate. When it came time for Prince William to attend University, he chose St Andrews, where he spent four years and where he met his future wife, Catherine Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge.
We hope everyone enjoys the bank holiday weekend.