The Queen will visit Berkhamsted on Friday 6 May.
According to the Buckingham Palace website the Queen will visit Berkhamsted School ‘on the occasion of the 475th anniversary of its foundation’. This will be the first ever visit by a reigning monarch to Berkhamsted School, which has enjoyed the patronage of kings and queens as far back as Henry VIII – Berkhamsted School was originally named for his son Edward VI. The last visit to Berkhamsted by a reigning monarch was in 1841 when Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort passed through the town. In 1958 the Berkhamsted School buildings known as Newcroft in Mill Street were opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
The Queen’s visit will form a magnificent centrepiece for the school’s anniversary celebrations. It was founded in 1541 by John Incent, Dean of St Pauls and an associate of Thomas Cromwell.
Richard Backhouse, Principal of Berkhamsted School, said: ‘We are delighted to confirm that to mark the occasion of the 475th anniversary of the School, our Patron, Her Majesty The Queen, has accepted an invitation to visit Berkhamsted School on Friday 6 May.
‘This will be an exciting and historic occasion for the School as it’s the first time, as far as records show, that a reigning monarch has visited. Preparations for the visit are underway and we look forward to welcoming Her Majesty in May.’
Berkhamsted Living believes that the Queen will also visit the Parish Church of St Peter, one of the largest churches in the county, to see a notable restoration project undertaken to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. On the wall to the left inside the main entrance hangs a highly unusual coat of arms of Elizabeth I. The Friends of St Peter’s have had this restored and, in 2012, commissioned a similar board to carry the royal coat of arms of Elizabeth II.
When Henry VIII assumed control of the Church of England in 1534 he ordered that his coat of arms should be displayed in churches. Elizabeth I continued the practice. The board in St Peter’s is a rare survivor of those distant days, restored (it is believed) in the late 18th century and again in the past couple of years. It shows the escutcheon of Henry IV supported by the English lion and the Welsh dragon, maintaining the House of Tudor’s claim to France as well as England and Wales.
The new board dedicated to Elizabeth II will read: ‘The Tudor Royal Coat of Arms of QUEEN ELIZABETH I was restored to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of QUEEN ELIZABETH II.’
The Queen celebrates her 90th birthday on 21 April and events are scheduled throughout the country through April, May and June. A royal visit is a feather in a town’s cap at any time, but for Berkhamsted to be honoured with one at such a time is exceptional.