Chosen by John Godfrey, researcher
In light of Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday this year, a Loyal Address was delivered by the Lord Lieutenant on behalf of the people of West Sussex. Celebrating the many occasions The Queen has visited the county, the book highlights her connection to West Sussex through the decades of her reign, and can be viewed online; http://www.westsussexlieutenancy.org.uk/west-sussex-lieutenancy-4200-loyal-address-to-hm-the-queen.html.
One such visit that stands out is The Royal Maundy Service, which took place in the Cathedral on 27th March 1986, the only time this colourful ceremony has taken place in Sussex. I was working in Chichester at the time and vividly remember the day, with the Queen in a blue outfit processing from the Cathedral to the Assembly Rooms, having distributed the Maundy coins to 60 men and 60 women from Sussex, representing 60 years of her life. The West Sussex Gazette of April 3rd reported, ‘‘Thousands of people crammed the streets of Chichester for a glimpse of the Queen and Prince Philip after they left the service. The sun shone weakly through the clouds as the Queen chatted with people, and Prince Philip, in fine form, cracked jokes.’ It was a real privilege to witness this memorable event and the description of the day in the Gazette brings it to life again.
WSRO Archivist Nichola Court, then aged 7, remembers the day equally well. She and her neighbour managed to get to the front of the barriers, only for Prince Philip to amble over and take her Union flag from her hand, commenting that he was always amazed that people didn’t poke their (or others’) eyes out with the pointy end! Needless to say, she and her neighbour were rendered dumbstruck and Prince Philip wandered off to speak to other members of the crowd (having handed back the flag first).