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News > OP updates > When the Queen almost visited PGS

When the Queen almost visited PGS

2 Jun 2022
Written by John Sadden
OP updates

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth has never visited PGS, though she has come quite close. There have, however, been several other royal visits. Her uncle – then the Duke of Wales and later, briefly, King Edward VIII - inspected the school in 1928, shortly after the Senior School had taken over the old Cambridge Barracks. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother passed through the school arch in a Rolls Royce Phantom on the 40th anniversary of D-Day in 1984. And the Queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, visited in 2014 to open the current Sixth Form Centre.

In May 1947, the King and his family – including Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret – returned from a tour of South Africa, disembarking at Portsmouth Dockyard. They are seen here being driven past the war-damaged Lower School (now the Upper Junior School) en route to the Guildhall Square. Pupils may be seen in their CCF uniforms cheering as the royal party sweeps past.

Her Majesty is seen in the second and third archive photograph (below) at Gunwharf Quays during the 2002 Portsmouth Festivities, held during her Golden Jubilee celebrations. Here she met the PGS Swing Band. One of the pupils reported that the late Duke of Edinburgh asked, "Are you really playing those things or do you have a tape recorder hidden under the stage?"

The final photo shows Her Majesty visiting the D-Day Museum at Southsea in the Summer of 2009. Fifty-five Year 3 and 4 pupils were there to greet her, one of whom presented her with flowers. Prince Philip spoke to pupils asking which school they were from and what the lion on their tracksuits meant. Every pupil and OP knows, of course, that the lion comes from the coat of arms and seal of the school’s founder, Dr William Smith.




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