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The late Queen is pictured smiling, during a visit to the RCM in 1997.

Feature Autumn 2022

In pictures: Remembering our Patron, The late Queen

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In September 2022, the Royal College of Music joined the nation and countries around the world in mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The late Queen was a proud champion of classical music throughout her life and showed unwavering dedication to the Royal College of Music, as President from 1943–52 and then Patron from 1952 for the entirety of her 70-year reign.

In memory of our Patron, Upbeat looks back at some of the visits The Queen made to the Royal College of Music over the course of her life.

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The then 17-year-old Princess Elizabeth’s signature appears in the RCM guestbook in 1943, when she attended a concert celebrating the 60th anniversary of the College.

The Princess heard a programme which included excerpts from Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto, before presenting several prizes to students as RCM President.

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In October 1947, Princess Elizabeth returned to the RCM, again presenting prizes to students and attending a performance.

This visit came only five weeks before her marriage to Prince Philip in November the same year. The RCM Magazine at the time ran a feature article on the Royal Wedding, written by RCM alumnus Sir William McKie, organist and chorus master at Westminster Abbey, who directed the music for the service.

You can read the account in the archive of the RCM Magazine on the Internet Archive.

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After ascending to the throne in 1952, The late Queen then became Patron of the Royal College of Music.

As Patron, The Queen attended the RCM on several occasions. She is pictured above in December 1973, when she presented The Queen Mother, who was the College’s President at the time, with an Honorary Doctor of Music degree. 

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In 1986, The late Queen officially opened the Royal College of Music’s Britten Theatre. She is pictured here unveiling a ceremonial plaque, and meeting members of the cast of Britten’s opera A Midsummer Night’s Dream (left to right, John Cogram, Carolyn Pride, Michael Law and Linda Gregson).

The then Prince of Wales was also in attendance at the grand opening. He would go on to become President of the RCM in 1993, a position he still holds nearly 30 years later.

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In 1997, The late Queen visited the RCM in her capacity as Patron. She met RCM students and honorary fellows including composition professor Joseph Horovitz, who composed a chamber piece for the occasion.

Archive footage from the time shows her arrival at the College, where she was greeted by a number of academic staff including former RCM Director Dame Janet Ritterman.

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The Royal College of Music was honoured to have had the support of our Royal Patron for over 70 years.

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