RIP Your Majesty: Luton will remember you and your visits with love, pride and gratitude

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As the nation mourns our glorious Queen, we take a nostalgic look back at Her Majesty’s visits to Luton and Dunstable over the decades

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh’s visits to Luton became something of a tradition.

The couple visited St Mary’s Parish Church, Luton, for Sunday morning service in November 1952. The Royal couple had been married for five years and it eventually became traditional for them to spend the weekend nearest to their wedding anniversary as guests of their friends Sir Harold and Lady Zia Wernher at Luton Hoo.

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The 1952 visit, ten months after the Queen ascended the throne following the death of King George VI, may have been her first to the town.

When she and the Duke returned in 1954, the Luton News reported that a crowd of nearly 3,000 had gathered to welcome them.

The couple are also pictured in another Luton News image believed to be 1960 at St Mary’s Church.

The Queen is pictured visiting Luton again in 1962 when she toured the recently opened Luton Central Library in November of that year. It replaced the Carnegie Library, which had opened on the corner of George Street and Williamson Street in 1910.

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The Queen is also pictured during that visit on the steps of the Town Hall and also on a town centre walkabout in Manchester Street.

The Queen pictured at the opening of Luton Airport Parkway station in 1999The Queen pictured at the opening of Luton Airport Parkway station in 1999
The Queen pictured at the opening of Luton Airport Parkway station in 1999

In November 1999, the Queen was back to open the new £40m passenger terminal at Luton Airport. During her visit to Luton she also opened Luton Parkway Station, Vauxhall Motors, the Orchard Unit - a secure mental health unit - and the New Opportunities and Horizons training centre. Her day also involved calling in at the Welbeck Centre – a job training centre for youngsters – and the National Centre of Language and Culture for Business programme based at the University of Luton.

In April 2017, Luton welcomed the Queen back when she opened the new Centre for Elephant Care at Whipsnade Zoo and then moved on to visit thrilled residents at Priory View independent living scheme in Church Street, Dunstable.

Our other images show 1953 Coronation parties in Luton at Britannia Avenue, Lewsey Road and Shakespeare Road.

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More recently people will long remember the events held across Luton and Dunstable to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. They included street parties and a host of other colourful events over the Bank Holiday weekend.

The Queen on a visit to Luton in 1962The Queen on a visit to Luton in 1962
The Queen on a visit to Luton in 1962

To add civic grandeur to the occasion to mark the Queen’s 70 years on the throne, the Town Crier made a regal proclamation from the Town Hall formally announcing the lighting of the Jubilee Beacon later in the evening.

The day of the Queen’s funeral will be declared a national day of mourning.

If the funeral falls on a Saturday or Sunday there will be no bank holiday. However, should the funeral take place on a weekday, that day will effectively be a bank holiday.

> Have you memories of seeing or meeting the Queen over the years? Email [email protected]