Certainly one event that you never expect to grace your school experience is a visit from Her Majesty The Queen. Yet, on a beautifully sunny Friday 6th May 2016, Britain’s longest reigning monarch travelled to Berkhamsted to visit St Peter’s Church for a morning service before making her way to Castle Campus in celebration of the 475th Anniversary of the founding of Berkhamsted Boys’ School in 1541. Having just been given the position of Editor-In-Chief of INK, I was elated to discover that my first assignment was, with the help of my Deputy Editor, Sebastian Fage, to assume the role of a ‘roving reporter’, gaining exclusive press coverage of the day.
Walking down Berkhamsted High Street early in the morning, there was an overwhelming sense of calm, whilst a nervous anticipation was conveyed by the gently flapping bunting that hung in quiet local shop windows.
Only a few hours later, the streets would be filled with crowds of animated people, all honoured that Her Majesty was visiting a community that they are so passionately involved in, but the sense of stillness before the occasion was something that transcended the town, heightened especially within the usually bustling school gates.
The atmosphere in the run up to Her Majesty’s arrival was palpable as students of all ages from Prep School to Sixth Form came together through a mutual ‘excitement’, eagerly taking their seats around the beautifully manicured grass quad to catch a glimpse of Her Majesty. The plethora of colour, from the deep greens and blues of the Combined Cadet Force uniforms, to the sea of red, white and blue flags that rustled in the hands of almost every student, was a feast for the senses.
The moment that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth entered through the historic Lych Gate at Castle Campus in her gleaming Maroon Bentley, silence fell upon the school as the reality of what was happening before our eyes suddenly dawned on us.
Having been greeted by a host of dignitaries, Her Majesty made her way to the quad where she was met by the school’s Combined Cadet Force. The tension was unmistakeable as Her Majesty proceeded to inspect the cadets, her stunning, bright fuchsia ensemble standing out against their immaculate uniforms.
Following this, after weeks of rehearsal, an excited group of year six students had the opportunity to perform an excerpt of their end of year play, The Lion King. Her majesty watched on intently, smiling as the elated students demonstrated the product of their hard work, their creative costumes and careful choreography leaving everyone feeling uplifted.
The Royal visit was concluded with Her Majesty unveiling a plaque, as a proud Sixth Form looked on, at which point she was presented with a leather-bound book of the school’s history and a collage of photos from the previous Royal visit, when the Queen Mother came to Berkhamsted School. Her Majesty appeared to be touched by the personal thought behind the gifts, increasing our sense of pride in our school’s long-standing and successful history.
Even after the Royal party had left the school, the sense of community amongst students, teachers, caretakers and chefs is something that I doubt will ever be matched or recreated; the events of that Friday were nothing short of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
There are many things in my life that I am thankful for; my family, my dog (and of course my clothes!). However, in a world that is laden with technology, we often forget to slow down and enjoy the moments, experiences and opportunities that cannot be recreated. It is events such as these that remind us to savour every moment and I have no doubt that Her Majesty The Queen’s visit will remain engrained in each of our memories for many years to come.
Original illustation by Sam Misan