Hundreds gathered on a misty Friday morning to welcome Queen Elizabeth II on her visit to UEA, the first since her preliminary visit in 1968.
In the midst of cheers from adoring crowds, not to mention two topless drummers clad in traditional Fijian dress, her Majesty was welcomed to the Fijian Exhibition at the Sainsbury’s Centre by UEA’s Vice Chancellor, Professor David Richardson and the Fiji High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Jitoko Tikolevu.
Photo credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
The Queen, understandably, didn’t hang around very long in the freezing January temperatures, preferring to head down the red carpet and into the exhibition, where she met various delegates from UEA’s student body and staff. Undergraduate Officer for the Union of UEA Students, Theo Antoniou-Phillips was one of the lucky ones with a chance to personally welcome the Queen.
Fellow Campaigns and Democracy Officer, Amy Rust, who also had the opportunity to meet her, said in an interview with The Take that:
“It was a really good experience. It’s like, honestly, she’s just a nice old lady, and it was just really nice to meet her.”
Crowds eagerly await the Queen’s arrival.
The overriding feelings from the crowd were excitement to see the lady herself, but also the realisation that in fact that the Queen is just a normal, albeit very renowned, woman. Student journalist Will Shears commented that:
“Most people that we’ve spoken to have been positive. We’ve had a few people be like ‘I don’t really care, I just want to see her before she dies, which is a bit morbid, but in general people are really excited to see her.”
Rob Klim, presenter for The Take, added: “I just want to give the Queen a hug!”
Student Tom Cooke said that if he had had the chance to meet her Majesty, all he wanted to know was “if she likes Dominos takeaways – if she even has takeaways?”
Photo credit: Denise Bradley.
It is safe to say that the Queen, was a massive hit at the University of East Anglia, to the relief of university officials. It was a far cry from the rumours about potential protests to the royal visit that peppered social media in the run-up to her arrival. Those responsible seemed to have lost their nerve on the day. Maybe they had a change of heart. Maybe they clocked the rather daunting men dressed in camouflage gear stationed at vantage points around the Sainsbury’s Centre.
The Queen’s visit to UEA was an opportunity for the university and Norwich to come together and celebrate the quintessential Britishness of the monarchy whilst also paying respect to another culture. The crowd, from the outside of the Sainsbury’s Centre, and the Queen on the inside, watched and listened together as a choir performed before she left.
Hopefully it won’t be another forty-nine years before she’s back again.