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Picture gallery: The Gazette takes a look back at past Queen visits to Islington

PUBLISHED: 07:08 02 June 2012

Queen Elizabeth II with Major Paul Champness, Captain of the Pikemen and Musketeers of the Honourable Artillery Company at Armoury House, in central London.

Queen Elizabeth II with Major Paul Champness, Captain of the Pikemen and Musketeers of the Honourable Artillery Company at Armoury House, in central London.

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Islington may not have always rolled out the red carpet for the Queen, but it hasn’t stopped Her Majesty from visiting the borough on numerous occasions during her 60-year reign.

Controversy surrounded her fleeting visit to the area in 1977 as part of her Silver Jubilee tour after an outcry from taxpayers angry over the £1,000 set aside for the historic event.

The council bowed down to public pressure and scrapped plans for a red carpet costing £50 as well as a buffet and drinks at the reception at the town hall following her tour of Highbury Fields.

Councillors decided to lay on tea and biscuits instead – but even that idea got the chop in the lead up to the day.

At the time, the Gazette quoted organiser Miss Peggy Hand as saying: “They won’t get a sausage.” And Cllr Fred John told the newspaper: “To spend £50 on a red carpet is crazy. It would be cheaper to buy her a pair of Wellington boots.”

But the lack of pomp and pageantry on July 6 didn’t stop the borough grinding to a halt as residents lined the streets to provide a euphoric welcome.

It was a case of cheers, waves and strike up the band all along the route which brought her into Islington via Balls Pond Road in her glass-topped Rolls Royce. A six-foot high Jubilee message was also erected in Bride Street, Holloway.

She was greeted with similar jubilation during her drive through the borough to mark her Coronation in 1953. Upper Street, Islington, thronged with unprecedented crowds so dense that it delayed the royal car by 10 minutes. The vehicle was forced to stop at the junction of the High Street with Liverpool Road as spectators surged forward before the police cleared the way.

This time, the council did lay a red carpet for her arrival at the town hall and a band played the national anthem.

In 1967, the Queen visited Hungerford Primary School, in Hungerford Road, Holloway, and was given a tour of the infants before leaving a signed photograph of herself wearing her state robes, which now hangs in the entrance lobby of the main building.

In 1999, she visited Moorfields Eye Hospital in City Road, Finsbury, in its centenary year, and again at the opening of the children’s centre which provided accommodation for their parents in 2007. The latter was a highlight of Col Brian Kay’s 18-year tenure as deputy lieutenant for Islington, which ended last year. He said: “It was one of the most moving visits. A lot of these young children came from all over the city to be treated and there was no accommodation for the parents, who obviously wanted to be near their children.”

Almeida Theatre, Almeida Street, Islington, was visited in 1999, and The Honorary Artillery Company at Armoury House, in Finsbury, has also been graced with several visits over the years – the last was in 2010, when she reviewed the Company of Pikeman and Musketeers. And City and Islington College’s campus in Goswell Road welcomed Her Majesty for a tour of facilities last year in the most recent visit to the borough.

Col Kay added: “We’re fortunate that we’ve had more visits than many other boroughs.” boroughs.”


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