On 17 June 1952, shortly after her accession to the throne on 6 February, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II received Addresses from representatives of organisations including the Dean and Canons of St George’s Chapel and the Military Knights of Windsor, at Windsor Castle. They are part of a group of 27 ‘Privileged Bodies’ who are allowed to present an address to the Monarch in person. Also included in this list are universities, the Royal Society, the Bank of England and other religious organisations. Originally, the number was much greater but diminished as the opportunity became more ceremonial rather than functional.
Detailed instructions were drawn up for deputations from these 27 bodies, who were to assemble wearing their ecclesiastical, academic or municipal robes, or morning dress. A representative of each body read their address to The Queen and handed it to her. The Queen then read her reply and handed it to the representative of the deputation, and each member of the deputation was presented to her.
The Dean and Canons’ address went through several drafts before they decided on a final version, which read:
We, Your Majesty’s loyal and devoted servants, the Dean and Canons of your Free Chapel of St George within Your Castle of Windsor present our humble duty. It was our high privilege to have some personal knowledge of Your Majesty’s father, King George the Sixth of blessed memory and our affectionate regard for him makes us the better able to offer Your Majesty respectful and most true sympathy in your sudden bereavement.
But we are happy in the sure confidence that your Majesty will by the grace of God follow the same path of selfless devotion to duty and of genuine interest in the welfare of all sorts and conditions of your subjects both in this country and throughout the Empire. We shall continually support Your Majesty with our prayers and dutiful goodwill. Much of Your Majesty’s life has been spent in Windsor and we hope the Castle may often be graced with your presence in days to come. May God make your reign long and prosperous and grant Your Majesty and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh happiness and strength for the High service to which He has called you.
Such ‘Loyal Addresses’, as they are known, have been presented to Queen Elizabeth on five occasions: the accession in 1952, the Silver Jubilee in 1977, the engagement of The Prince of Wales in 1981, the Golden Jubilee in 2002, and the Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The Archives also hold copies of the addresses and replies of Loyal Addresses presented to Queen Victoria on her accession, as well as replies by Edward VIII and George VI.
In 1952, the Dean and Canons received a reply from The Queen, which is shown above. It reads:
I am very glad to meet you here today with My husband and to receive this Address from you who are our friends and neighbours. I deeply value your references to the personal qualities of My father, whom you knew so well and by whose death I am called to undertake the solemn duty of sovereignty. In discharging these responsibilities I shall endeavour to follow King George’s example of service to God and to all his peoples. In this resolve I shall be assisted by My husband and strengthened by the support of your prayers and abiding good will.
and is signed by The Queen.
To find out more about the connection between The Queen and the College, visit our Platinum Jubilee Exhibition on show in St George’s Chapel in summer 2022.
Anne Courtney (Assistant Archivist)