Queen Elizabeth in Victoria Park in 1977

Our Queen Elizabeth in the East End

Since Queen Elizabeth II’s first visit to the East End aged just 18, she has returned to the area time and again.

The Queen’s connection to the East End was a long and enduring one. 

Her first visit occurred before she even ascended the throne. The then Princess Elizabeth at the young age of 18 visited east London in 1944 when she joined her mother, Queen Elizabeth, to visit those whose homes and businesses had been bombed by the Luftwaffe. Her kind and gentle presence won the hearts of locals instantly.

And we’d like to think that her heart was with us: the East End was the first place on the royal tour after her Coronation in 1953 – in fact, she visited the area the very next day. It was the 3 June 1953 when hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets, waving Union flags, shouting ‘God Save the Queen’, the crowds deep, but everyone was hopeful that they might catch a glimpse of their new Queen. 

Since then, her trips to the East End have delighted and excited residents. 

From meeting a chirpy crowd of children in Victoria Park, opening new laboratories and libraries at Queen Mary University, visiting victims injured in the 2005 Aldgate bombings, to even making her acting debut when she accompanied the quintessential British spy 007 to open the 2012 Olympics at Stratford, she returned to the East End time and again.

The love and loyalty she showed make us think she was an East Ender in heart and spirit. By all accounts, she was witty, plucky, resourceful, and determined.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on Parnell Road on their coronation tour in June 1953, East London
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on Parnell Road on their coronation tour in June 1953.
Queen Elizabeth looking down a microscope at Queen Mary University in 1962, East London
Queen Elizabeth at Queen Mary University in 1962. Owner of image: Queen Mary University Archives
Queen Elizabeth congratulates a student of Queen Mary University in East London in 1988
Queen Elizabeth congratulates a student of Queen Mary University in 1988. Owner of image: Queen Mary University Archives
Queen Elizabeth sits between a teacher and pupils while on a school visit to Morpeth School, Bethnal Green, East London
Queen Elizabeth on a visit to Morpeth School in 2001.
An image of Queen Elizabeth leaving the Bell Foundry in Whitechapel, East London
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visit the Bell Foundry in Whitechapel in 2009.
Queen Elizabeth walking alongside crowds of children waving union jacks, Tower Hamlets, East London
The Queen visited Tower Hamlets in 2017 for the 100th anniversary of the bombing of Upper North Street.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip standing in All Saints Church in Poplar for a service, Tower Hamlets, East London
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in All Saints Church in Poplar in 2017.
Queen Elizabeth inside a school talking to a school pupil in Tower Hamlets, East London
Queen Elizabeth visited Mayflower Primary School in 2017 to meet pupils and see their projects, including their First World War remembrance exhibitions.

Do you have any images or stories of Queen Elizabeth II in the East End you want to share with us? Email them to us at hello@romanroadlondon.com.

If you liked this article, read our piece on services of reflection to commemorate Queen Elizabeth.

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