A BUSY Islington high street ground to a halt yesterday (Wednesday) as the Queen and Prince Philip came to pay tribute a high-achieving college.

A police escort cleared traffic as the royal convoy arrived at City and Islington College in Goswell Road, Angel, at around 11.30am.

The college is the only FE institution in the country to be awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize twice. It has also been given Beacon status by the Learning and Skills Council and has been rated “outstanding” in every category by watchdog Ofsted.

The Queen and the prince spent an hour meeting staff and students before visiting the environmental and forensic science laboratories, where they witnessed a mock crime scene, and the new Animal Centre, where a chinchilla born that day was named Elizabeth in her honour.

Dupelola Ajala-Gravill, 35, president of the student union, said: “I was asked to introduce the Queen to the students and welcome her.

“She was lovely and she had this disarming smile which catches you off guard and you find yourself blushing.

“After giving birth to my son, this is possibly the best day of my life.”

Upsana Patel, 19, and Chloe Justice-Mills, 17, who are both studying to be veterinary nurses at the college, met the Queen in the animal centre.

Upsana said: “She was really nice and really down to earth. We showed her how we feed the locusts to the lizards, but I think she had seen it before.”

Chloe added: “She seemed very interested and asked us a lot of questions about the course. I think she liked the hedgehogs as well.”

Henry Heming, 17, who is studying geography and ICT A-levels, thought they had a good sense of humour.

He said: “They were both lovely people. They were making jokes about me training to be a pilot. Prince Philip said ‘aren’t you a bit young for that!’”.

The faculty at the college also got the opportunity to meet the royal couple.

Dr Steve Jones, director of the centre, said: “It’s been a fabulous day. I wrote to the palace at Christmas and they came back to me in February and said they would like to visit the centre.

“I think they decided to visit because the profile of the college is very different and 90 per cent of our students go on to jobs or further education.”

Principal of the centre, Frank McLoughlin CBE, said: “It is an incredible honour to have Her Majesty and the prince come here and meet the staff and students.”

Catherine West, the leader of Islington Council, who was also in attendance, said: “We are delighted that Her Royal Highness was here to visit the centre and we are very excited about what this means to the young people and the wonderful staff here.”

At the end of the visit, the Queen unveiled two plaques marking the official opening of the animal care centre and recognising the department for applied sciences’ accreditation as a centre for excellence.