Queen Elizabeth II has been central to British life for longer than most of us have been alive.
She’s been the linchpin of everything that has made our little kingdom great for the past 64 years and has never given us reason to feel anything but proud.
With her 90th birthday approaching, what better time to celebrate our longest-reigning monarch while sharing memories of her many visits to Sussex.
The Queen has visited Horsham twice – on March 10 1978 and October 24 2003 – and was given a rousing West Sussex welcome by excited crowds on both occasions.
We want to see your pictures and hear about your memories of the day the Queen came to town.
Or perhaps you were lucky enough to meet her at another event such as one of the
garden parties at Buckingham Palace.
We also want to hear about any plans you have to celebrate her 90th birthday.
The Queen’s first visit to Horsham, the year after the Silver Jubilee, was to the school which bears her name, in Comptons Lane. She was welcomed by Horsham’s MP of the time, Peter Hordern.
She also dropped in at The Forest School, where she was met by Avocet Phelps, chairman of Horsham District Council, and Charles Lucas, chairman of West Sussex County Council.
The second visit saw the Royal motorcade pass through the town centre in between Her Majesty’s visits to the Forum and newly refurbished Capitol Theatre.
Gary Shipton, Editor In Chief of the County Times group, was a guest at The Capitol during the Royal visit.
He recalled: “The streets of Horsham were packed with well-wishers cheering Her Majesty throughout her day in the town. It was the culmination of an extraordinarily exciting and creative period for Horsham.
“Not only was The Capitol restored and transformed but The Forum and The Pavilions were also developed – making Horsham one of the best places in Britain in which to live and work.
“The Queen seemed hugely impressed by everything she saw and everyone she met.”
West Sussex has been a popular destination for the Queen – and for Princess Elizabeth before she ascended the throne in 1952 – and her visits no doubt left thousands of people with treasured memories.
She attended the Maundy Service, in Chichester Cathedral on March 27 1986; opened the North Terminal of Gatwick Airport on March 18 1988; visited Durrington High School, in Worthing on March 26 1999; and wowed the crowds at the South of England Show in 1984 and 2002.
You can email your pictures and accounts of your memories of the day you saw the Queen to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Or write to West Sussex County Times, Springfield House, Springfield Road, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 2RG. Don’t forget to tell us about any plans you have to celebrate her 90th birthday.
Big plans for Her Majesty’s even bigger day
One thing the UK does well is throw a right royal knees-up.
We celebrated the Queen’s Coronation in 1952, when she took to the throne at the tender age of 25; we held street parties galore for her Silver Jubilee in 1977 and the Golden Jubilee in 2002.
We did the same thing for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and there will no doubt be celebrations on a massive scale in 2022 when she becomes the first monarch to reach the impressive Platinum Jubilee, at the grand old age of 95.
Given the Queen Mother lived to be 101, the smart money should be on Her Majesty making that platinum milestone with ease.
There are big plans in place to celebrate her 90th birthday.
While the day itself falls on April 21, a four-night pageant will be held at Windsor Castle from Thursday May 12 to Sunday May 15, celebrating her life, her loves of horses, her dedication to the Commonwealth and international affairs and her deep involvement with the Navy, Army and Air Force.
A 90-minute spectacular planned for the Sunday will be televised on ITV from around 8.30pm and will include 900 horses and more than 1,500 participants from around the UK and the World.
It will take viewers on a journey from the Queen’s birth in Bruton Street, Mayfair, in 1926, through to World War Two, when, refusing to allow her daughters to be evacuated to Canada, her mother famously said: “The children won’t go without me. I won’t leave without the King. And the King will never leave.”
It will cover her marriage in Westminster Abbey in 1947 to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten; her return to the Abbey for her Coronation on June 2 1953; and her reign of more than 60 years.
The festivities will not end there. The birthday girl and the Duke of Edinburgh will attend a National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday June 10. She will then be joined by other members of the Royal Family at The Queen’s Birthday Parade on Horse Guards Parade on Saturday June 11.
The long weekend will finish on Sunday June 12 with a Patron’s Lunch - a celebration of Her Majesty’s patronage of more than 600 organisations in the UK and around the Commonwealth since 1952.
That’s a hectic schedule for anyone half her age.
At a more local level, several councils have signed up for the lighting of a 90th birthday beacon. So far, Crawley Borough Council, Burgess Hill Town Council, Northiam Parish Council, Hunston Parish Council, Uckfield Town Council, Winchelsea Corporation, Bognor Regis Town Council and Littlehampton Town Council have pledged to do the honours in Sussex.
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