The life of Queen Elizabeth II – a timeline in Liverpool

From her first official visit in 1949 as a young Princess, to her last visit – 67 years later – in 2016; Her Majesty The Queen was always given the warmest of welcomes by the people of Liverpool.

She officially opened Liverpool Cathedral, the Kingsway Tunnel and Alder Hey Hospital; she cheered on the horses at the Grand National and she greeted thousands of well-wishers from the balcony of the Town Hall, on numerous occasions.

Here, James O’Keefe, a Heritage Attendant at St George’s Hall, charts the milestone moments in the life of Her Majesty and our city.

21 April 1926

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor is born. She is the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York

11 December 1936

Elizabeth becomes the heir presumptive when her father becomes King George VI

21 April 1942

On Princess Elizabeth’s sixteenth birthday she has her first public engagement: inspecting the Grenadier Guards

20 November 1947

A 21-year-old Elizabeth marries Philip Mountbatten in Westminster Abbey

14 November 1948

Princess Elizabeth gives birth to her first child Prince Charles

29 March 1949

Princess Elizabeth’s first official visit to Liverpool.

Elizabeth and Philip visit the Dock Board’s boat Galatea which took them to the North End docks. The Princess opens the new deep-water lock.

Galatea bumps into the wall of the lock but Elizabeth is fine as she holds tightly onto the rail.

Elizabeth and Philip visit the Town Hall for lunch with the Lord Mayor Alderman Walter Thomas. After the lunch, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip come out on the balcony facing Castle St to greet the crowds that had gathered outside.

The Princess and Prince then went to visit Liverpool Cathedral unlocking the main door with a special key that was designed by the architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. The Prince then stencilled a pillar with the initials “E” and “P” in a ‘true-lovers’ knot’ (Illustrated London News 9 April 1949).

The crowds at the cathedral cheered so much that the royal couple were reportedly delayed ‘for nearly two hours en route to Preston’ (Illustrated London News)

15 August 1950

Elizabeth gives birth to her second child Princess Anne

16 November 1951

Princess Elizabeth visits Liverpool, having travelled on the liner Empress from Scotland having recently returned from Canada.

As the Princess, accompanied by Prince Philip, stepped ashore the bells of Liverpool Cathedral rang for the first ever time.

There is also a Royal Salute of 21 guns by the Boys’ battery of the Royal Artillery

The royal couple then walked along Prince’s Parade with the Lord Lieutenant of the County Palatine, Earl of Derby and they inspected a guard of honour of the Mersey Division of the Royal Navy Reserve.

They then went to the Town Hall for lunch with the Lord Mayor Vere Egerton Cotton. Outside, the royal couple inspected a guard of Honour of the RASC (Territorials).

The crowd was so excited that they broke through the police cordon and crash barriers.

The Princess and Prince Philip signed the visitors’ book of the Town Hall (see image)

In 1953, Captain Charles Marriott, Director of the Liverpool City Police Band, told the Liverpool Echo that during the Princess’s visit to the Town Hall, he had been torn between playing the Royal Artillery Slow March, which the Lord Mayor liked best, or a nautical selection, which he knew the Princess always enjoyed. As they mounted the grand staircase of the building, Marriott decided on the Princess’s preference. He commented: “The Lord Mayor looked surprised, but the Princess looked very pleased, and we were later congratulated by the Duke of Edinburgh.”

The Lord Mayor looked surprised, but the Princess looked very pleased, and we were later congratulated by the Duke of Edinburgh

Captain Charles Marriott, Director of the Liverpool City Police Band

2 June 1953

The Queen’s solemn coronation took place, after the death of her father the year before. The ceremony is held at Westminster Abbey.

21 October 1954

Elizabeth visits Liverpool Town Hall for the first time as monarch, again accompanied by Prince Philip.

The press report that as she toured the streets of the surrounding area a Malaysian girl gave the Queen a bouquet of flowers in Kirkby.

As the Queen entered the Town Hall, the crowd of thousands shouted “We want the Queen”.

She then appeared on the balcony facing Castle Street and the crowd roared and waved. Leaving the balcony she went to the Small Ballroom where she met leading civic and religious figures.

Her Majesty then inspected the guard of honour of the 5th Battalion of the 5th King’s (Liverpool) Regiment.

The Queen also visited the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

26 March 1955

The Princess attended the Grand National at a rainswept Aintree with the Queen Mother in Lord Derby’s box.

1956

The Princess attended the Grand National with the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, the Princess stayed at Knowsley Hall, as guest of Lord and Lady Derby.

When the royal party arrived at Town Green Station in Aughton they were greeted by a large crowd of hundreds of people and more than 2,500 flowers that had been flown from Guernsey to decorate a flower bank for the visit.

19 February 1960

Elizabeth gives birth to her third child Prince Andrew

24 May 1961

The Queen visits Pilkington glassworks factory in St Helens, followed by lunch with Lord and Lady Derby at Knowsley Hall.

Afterwards, the Queen visited the Empire Theatre to watch ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’.

The Queen travelled back to London from Liverpool Airport on a Heron of the Queen’s Fleet. Prince Philip stayed privately overnight in Cheshire and the following day played polo for Windsor Park in Tarporley the following afternoon.

The Queen and Duke at a Gala Performance at the Empire Theatre

14 December 1962

Queen Elizabeth visited the Canada-Langton Dock to officially open the Langton River Entrance. Sailing towards the entrance on the Liverpool pilot boat the Arnet Robinson, she passed crowds of dockworkers on the dockside who had gathered to greet her. After the official opening of the entrance, Elizabeth toured the North docks by boat and then travelled to the Town Hall to attend lunch with 250 guests. As the royal car neared the Town Hall, the pavements of Castle Street were filled with ‘thousands of office workers’ who had taken their lunch hour to see the Queen. A few minutes before the Queen arrived, the crowds had packed the pavements ’10 and 20 deep behind the barricades.’ (Liverpool Echo 14 December 1962). One woman was even reported as fainting. At the Town Hall the Queen was welcomed by the Lord Mayor David J Lewis and the Lady Mayoress. Before sitting down to lunch, the Queen was asked if she would like to make an appearance on the balcony, she said ‘yes very much. There were so many people waiting in the street outside.’

The Queen leaves Liverpool by train from Lime Street Station. The royal train, on this occasion, is reported to be staffed by an all-Liverpool crew.

Queen as she leaves the Town Hall for Lime Street Station

10 March 1964

Queen Elizabeth gives birth to her fourth child, Prince Edward

14 December 1967

Queen Elizabeth visits Lime Street Railway Station

18 May 1968

Queen Elizabeth visits Liverpool Airport with Lord Mayor of Liverpool Ethel May Wormald

25 June 1971

The Queen officially opened Kingsway Tunnel ‘My grandfather named the first Mersey Tunnel Queensway in honour of Queen Mary. So, in honour of my father it is with the greatest pleasure that I declare the second Mersey Tunnel open and name it Kingsway.’ Cheering from the 6,000-strong crowd followed as the long blue curtains at the tunnel entrance, released by the press of the button by the Queen, fell aside.

My grandfather named the first Mersey Tunnel Queensway in honour of Queen Mary. So, in honour of my father it is with the greatest pleasure that I declare the second Mersey Tunnel open and name it Kingsway

Queen Elizabeth II

The Queen was then driven through the tunnel and visited Wallasey.

Later after returning to Liverpool, the Queen visited St John’s Precinct and toured the market taking tea in the Tower Restaurant with Lord Mayor Stephen Minion, the Deputy Lord Mayor Councillor Ian Levin, his wife and honorary freemen of the city Lord Cohen of Birkenhead, John Moores and Sir Joseph Cleary.

Queen Elizabeth II visits St John’s Market ©Mirrorpix

The Queen also visited the Liverpool Empire Theatre

1974

In 1972 the structure of local government in England was changed meaning that Liverpool’s council became first a county borough and then a Metropolitan District Council, having previously been a City Council. This meant that Liverpool Council no longer officially held a “city” title meaning that the official title of Lord Mayor would no longer be used (replaced with Chairman).

However, Liverpool Council applied to the Queen to retain the title of “city” and she granted this through a new City Charter for Liverpool (1974). The Charter meant that the council would continue to be known as Liverpool City Council and the titles of Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor would remain.

2 June 1977

Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebration of 25 years on the throne

21 June 1977

The Queen attended a service at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. The Royal party left the Cathedral with Lord Mayor Paul Orr and The Archbishop of Liverpool Derek Worlock. Between the two Cathedrals there were unbroken lines of children. The Queen and Prince Phillip were driven down Hope Street in a state Range Rover.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visit the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral © Mirrorpix

Elizabeth and Philip then travelled on the Mersey Ferry Royal Iris to review shipping on the Mersey. The bells of Our Lady and St Nicholas rung in celebration of the Jubilee.

The Royal party departed Liverpool on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

This was 80 years since Victoria’s diamond Jubilee.

25 October 1978

Her Majesty officially opens Liverpool Cathedral

4 May 1982

Queen Elizabeth visits St John’s Market “Over 3,000 laughing, cheering, sometimes crying people had waited for hours to wave their Union Jacks enthusiastically. And due to the Falklands crisis, there was that added bit of patriotic bit of fervour [sic] about the whole scene.” “Faith again in this once great city which may be on hard times at the moment, but does not lack in spirit, if the crowds cheering in St. John’s Market were anything to go by.” The Queen talked to a group of women in the crowd, including Mrs Minnie Connolly from Seaforth and Hetty Smith, a 71 year old resident of Tuebrook. Mrs Smith: “I can’t help crying when I see her, she is so marvellous”.

…there’s nothing snobby about our Queen

Mrs Minnie Connolly

Earlier in the day, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip had visited Port Sunlight alighting from the royal train at the village’s train station.

The Prince met 8-year-old Stephen Worral from Parkside Rd, Bebington, who had made a red, white and blue hat for the occasion. The Duke asked him: “Is that a waste paper basket on your head?” (Liverpool Echo 5 May 1982)

The royal couple attended the official opening of Arrowe Park Hospital spending one and a half hours visiting wards and dining and staff facilities.

The couple then visited the new Police Headquarters in Liverpool

At Liverpool Town Hall the couple enjoyed lunch with the Lord Mayor James Ross. The Queen waved to the crowd from the balcony “1,000 strong”, a section of which “broke into a rendering of the National Anthem”. (Liverpool Echo, 4 May 1982)

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip attended a concert performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the RLPO

21 June 1982

Prince William is born to Prince Charles and Princess Diana. William is second in line to the throne.

2 May 1984

The Queen officially opens Festival Gardens and the new Court building, the Queen Elizabeth II Law Courts.

The Queen arrived in Liverpool by train into Lime Street Station, welcomed by the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, Wing Commander Kenneth Stoddart, who presented the welcoming party of Merseyside Chief Executive Ray O’Brien, County Council Chairman Councillor Ben Shaw, Liverpool City Council Chairman Hugh Dalton, City Chief Executive Alfred Stocks, the Chief Constable Kenneth Oxford and British Rail general manager Trevor Anderson.

Liverpool Echo headline 2 May 1984 “My Super Day That’s the Queen’s tribute to Liverpool”

The Queen declares that she has not enjoyed herself so much for many years.

Her Majesty compared Liverpool to the plants at the Festival Gardens, describing how plants wither and die but with the coming of spring, growth begins again. Something “we all wish for Liverpool”.

The Queen officially opens Festival Gardens © Liverpool Echo

The Liver Building’s clock was refurbished in time for the Queen’s visit and the clock, silent since the late seventies, rang out again after a short roof top ceremony where Mr Arthur McArdle, Chairman of the Royal Assurance set the chimes in motion.

1991

The Queen visits Liverpool Cathedral

7 June 1996

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip arrived at Liverpool Lime Street Station having travelled on the royal train. The Prince Philip spent the day visiting Kirkby and Birkenhead. The Queen Elizabeth opened the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) with Paul McCartney and music students gave a performance. Paul McCartney said the Queen had ‘loved it’ (Liverpool Echo 7 June 1996).

The Queen then visited the newly-refurbished Liverpool Philharmonic Hall to officially unveil a plaque commemorating the re-opening of the building. She then watched a full programme of music in the hall. 

31 August 1997

The death of Princess Diana

20 November 1997

Golden wedding anniversary. The Queen and Prince Philip held a special garden party at Buckingham Palace for other couples also celebrating their golden wedding anniversaries.

22 July 1999

Queen Elizabeth visits the Empire Theatre and Liverpool Town Hall.

She also met residents from the new flats at the Bullring in Copperas Hill and staff from the community centre.

‘Brookside’ actors also met the Queen at Central Library to talk about the “Brookie Basics” reading scheme.

That was followed by lunch at the Town Hall with Lord Mayor Joseph Devaney. While walking up the grand staircase of the building, the Queen she said to Deputy Lord Mayor Eddie Clein “You know Lord Mayor this is one of my favourite Town Halls in the country.” (Eddie Clein, Falling Off The Fence (2014), p.170)

There was then a walkabout in Exchange Flags where 500 people had gathered to welcome the royal couple. Prince Philip went on to visit the Medeva Pharma Ltd factory in the afternoon.

The Queen went to the Speke and Garston community fire station, the £2.4million state of the art Garston Urban Village Hall. At the fire station a 5-year-old girl Nicola McDiarmid handed over two cards that she had made for the Queen. The Queen asked her if she had made them all on her own to which Nicola shyly replied “yes”. The message in the cards read “To the Queen I love you; I hope you love me.”

In the evening the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited the Empire Theatre to watch ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and they also met the cast and theatre staff.

9 February 2002

Death of the Queen’s sister Princess Margaret

30 March 2002

Death of Queen’s mother (aged 101)

24 June 2002

The Queen celebrates her Golden Jubilee. During this year she travels 40,000 miles visiting the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and over 70 cities and towns across the UK.

25 July 2002

Elizabeth and Philip visit Liverpool Town Hall. Elizabeth enjoys a walkabout outside the building, shaking hands with members of the public. The Royal couple then have lunch in the Town Hall with Lord Mayor Jack Spriggs. Elizabeth and Philip appear on the balcony of the Town Hall facing Castle St and wave to the large crowd of well wishers and, taking a seat on the balcony, watch a parade.

During this visit to Liverpool Her Majesty experienced some Beatles-linked events. She met Paul McCartney at the Walker Art Gallery and admired the artwork of local children. Later the same day, the Queen met Yoko Ono at Liverpool Airport to officially open the new terminal named after John Lennon: Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

9 April 2004

The Queen visited Liverpool Cathedral to give out Maundy money.

In the afternoon, the Queen attended a faith lunch at Liverpool Hope University College, dining with representatives of the city’s religious groups, as well as the Lord Mayor Ron Gould and other civic leaders.

Staff from the Town Hall advised Liverpool Hope on Royal protocol for the Queen’s visit.

Jean Evans, head of the Lord Mayor’s office, said: ‘We have been helping Liverpool Hope prepare for the civic lunch because we have been through it before and we know the right way to do things. Although the meal is being held by Hope, it is a civic event hosted by the Lord Mayor.’

21 April 2007

The Queen officially becomes the UK’s oldest ever reigning monarch.

3 December 2007

Elizabeth attends the Royal Variety Charity Show at Liverpool Empire Theatre. Presented by Phillip Schofield and Kate Thornton, performers included Russell Brand, Seal, the English National Ballet, Enrique Iglesias and the Heavy Cavalry and Cambrai Band.

22 May 2008

The Queen officially opened Liverpool One and is shown around the new shopping area of Liverpool by the Duke of Westminster and Rod Holmes (the project director of Grosvenor Estates). She also visited the newly-completed Echo Arena where she admired the painting Cityscape by artist Ben Johnson whom she met.

Queen Elizabeth II visits Liverpool One in 2008. © PNW

The Queen and Prince Philip visited St George’s Hall as part of the city’s European Capital of Culture celebrations. They were shown the recently-refurbished Small Concert Room of the building; then there was lunch with 200 guests in the Great Hall. Other guests included the Lord Mayor Steve Rotheram, Bishop James Jones, Archbishop Patrick Kelly, Gerry Marsden and Ken Dodd.

After lunch, the Queen visited the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and met Vasily Petrenko, the conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

1 December 2011

The Queen visited the newly-opened Museum of Liverpool and New Brighton. She travelled by train and was welcomed by Dame Lorna Muirhead, the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, at Lime St Station.

The Queen met Yoko Ono at the museum as well as Lord Mayor Frank Prendergast who presented the Queen with a model of the Royal Liver Building.

Her Majesty also visited the Royal Liver Building

2012

The Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee

17 May 2012

The Queen and Prince Philip visited the waterfront of Liverpool, driving along Canada Boulevard. They then had a ride on the Yellow Duck Marine with the Mayor of Liverpool and the Lord Mayor of Liverpool. The Queen then visited the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

27 June 2012

Opening ceremony of the Olympics in London

22 July 2013

Prince George is born to Prince William and Kate Middleton.

9 September 2015

The Queen becomes the longest reigning monarch in British history: 63 years

21 April 2016

The Queen celebrated her 90th birthday with a special street party along the Mall with 10,000 people.

23 June 2016

The Queen arrives at Lime Street Station with Prince Philip. They travel to the International Festival of Business (IFB) and officially open the new Exhibition Centre and the Pullman Hotel. At the Exhibition Centre they are treated to a performance by the Pagoda Chinese Orchestra.

The royal couple visit Liverpool Town Hall and have lunch with Lord Mayor Roz Gladden. The menu cards are based on the design that was used at the Town Hall when Queen Victoria visited Liverpool in 1886.

The Queen then travels to the newly-completed Alder Hey Hospital to officially open it. The Queen and Prince Philip then spend time visiting and talking to patients at the hospital.

Roz Gladden noted that the Queen walked over three miles in Liverpool that day.

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