Over the course of her 70 year reign, Leicester was graced with a number of high profile visits from Her Majesty the Queen, with the monarch leaving not only a lasting impression on the people she met, but also several buildings in the city.
Yesterday (Thursday, September 8), Queen Elizabeth II passed away after 70 years of service, leaving the country, and of course Leicester, in a state of mourning.
However, the city had the privilege of hosting the beloved monarch many times over the years, including her most recent visit, five years ago.
In April 2017 Queen Elizabeth spent time at Leicester Cathedral to hand out the traditional Maundy Money to 182 local men and women. Following the service, she was invited to eat lunch at St Martin’s House, alongside local heroes, dignitaries and honorary freeman of the city Engelbert Humperdinck.
The first time the Queen visited Leicester, was back in May 1958, just six years after taking to the throne. The young monarch arrived with her husband, Prince Phillip, to inspect a guard of honour of the 147th Infantry Brigade, before visiting the University of Leicester to open its new Student’s Union – the Percy Gee building.
In 1993, Queen Elizabeth returned to open another building, this time at the city’s De Montfort University.
She made the visit on December 9, opening the university’s award winning Queens Building.
That same day, she travelled to Leicester Royal Infirmary, to open the royally named Windsor Building.
However, it wasn’t her first visit to the hospital. In 1980, she opened the Balmoral building at the facility.
In 2002, Queen Elizabeth travelled to the city once again, visiting Sikh Guru Nanak Gurdhwara in Holy Bones to find out more about the Sikh faith.
A walkabout in Leicester’s Humberstone Gate, attracted hundreds of people, desperate to catch a glimpse of Her Royal Highness. She also delivered a speech at the National Space Centre.
In 2008, the Queen and her husband Prince Phillip were on hand to open a prominent entertainment facility in the city – the Curve Theatre.
She met acting and backstage staff at the £61m complex and saw a performance of a specially commissioned show, Simply Cinderella.
Paul Kerryson, was the artistic director of the Curve at the time.
“It was fantastic. For her to open this brilliant theatre was a great privilege for us all,” he said of the occasion.
At part of the visit, Queen Elizabeth also opened the £32 million David Wilson Library at the University of Leicester.
Turi King Professor of Public Engagement and Genetics at the university was there on the day
“There was just this magical atmosphere of excitement and joy,” she said.
“I remember that it was quite a chilly day, but hundreds turned out, determined to get a glimpse Her Majesty,” she went on to reveal.
“She was the nation’s grandmother – she had had that warm kindness and a sparkle in her eyes that everybody loved.”
In 2012, Leicester was lucky to welcome Queen Elizabeth back once again, when the city was chosen as the starting point for her nationwide Diamond Jubilee celebrations. She arrived with her husband Prince Phillip and also Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge and Cornwall.
Resham Singh Sandhu, the High Sheriff of Leicestershire at the time, said that Leicestershire was “so lucky” to host the trio.
“For them to start the Jubilee celebration from Leicester, that has great, great privilege, and we are lucky,” he said.
“The whole city and county are so excited to welcome them here.”
To commemorate the Queen’s 2012 Jubilee visit, a prominent space in Leicester was named Jubilee Square.
The city’s De Montfort University were honoured by a visit from Her Majesty as part of 2012 tour.
In a tribute, they commented on the lasting impressions the Queen created, as she connected “so naturally” with the students.
This Summer of course, Her Majesty, 96, celebrated 70 years on the throne, with events taking place all across Leicester and Leicestershire. She is the longest reigning monarch in British history, reigning from February 6 1952 until her death on Thursday (September 8).