Alumni share their tributes and memories of Queen Elizabeth II
16 September 2022
Hundreds of alumni across the world have shared messages of condolence and memories of meeting or seeing the Queen, following the sad news of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
For most alumni, Queen Elizabeth was the only monarch known during their lifetime and many expressed in their messages how the Queen brought a sense of stability to their lives during all the changes of the last 70 years.
Above all, threaded throughout the messages were words about the Queen’s devoted service that will prove a source of inspiration for as many years to come.
The Queen visited UCL twice – in 1985 to mark the completion of the Main Quad and in February 2020 to formally open the Royal National ENT and Eastman Dental Hospitals.
Many alumni who met or saw the Queen in 1985 shared their memories of the visit. Paul Clark (Medicine MBBS 1990), who was invited to the opening ceremony as an undergraduate student representative, recalls: “The Queen asked each of us what we were studying and about student life in general. She was able to engage with all of us and showed a genuine interest in our experiences of studying in central London at a prestigious institution.”
Alumnus Philip Dawid, who at the time of the visit was Head of the UCL Department of Statistical Science, says: “We decided to put on an academic seminar and exhibition in the new staff room during her visit. We showcased a long-standing collaboration with UCL crystallographers, who had some nice technical equipment and visual displays. I recall trying to enthuse the Queen about a particularly interesting small diamond with a significant flaw; however, this was overshadowed by the emerald on her lapel. Her Majesty was the very soul of politeness and charm.”
Katharine Lang (BA French 1996) recalled, “I have a personal memory of Her Majesty’s visit in 1985, though it was seven years before I became a UCL student. My grandfather Newton Watson, then Dean of The Bartlett, was among the academic staff welcoming the Queen on her tour of the Main Quad... When I asked what she was like, he said she had a beautiful smile. Some years later my husband Robert Symmons (BSc Archaeology 1996; MSc Archaeology 1999; PhD Archaeology 2002) also had the good fortune to meet the Queen when she visited the Natural History Museum where he worked. When I asked what she was like, he said she had a beautiful smile. I was invited to attend a Royal Garden Party in 2020 but it was cancelled due to the pandemic so I never had the opportunity to witness her lovely smile in person, but it is how I shall always remember her: smiling, happy and glorious!”
Many alumni also reflected on encounters that they had with the Queen on occasions other than her visits to UCL, including on school visits, Diamond Jubilee celebrations and a Buckingham Palace Garden Party.
- The Queen is pictured during a visit to UCL in 1985 to mark the official completion of the Main Quad.