Felsted School plays tribute to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, who died today aged 99, after many years of outstanding service to his country.
Felsted has particularly fond memories of Prince Philip, who visited the school on 6 May 2014, as part of our 450th Anniversary celebrations, alongside his wife HM The Queen. It was a memorable day for all our pupils, staff and village community, who all had the opportunity to see the royal couple as they arrived by car and departed by royal helicopter.
Felsted Headmaster, Chris Townsend, who was Deputy Head at the time, had full oversight on how the whole day was planned; “It was certainly a military operation to ensure it ran smoothly, but we were delighted with how the day went; there were so many little touches that one could talk about, but the royal couple seemed to connect with so many of us on different levels; they spoke to our youngest Prep pupils who presented a tableau of Felsted through the ages as well as our Senior students who showed them displays of Felsted activities. Prince Philip was particularly interested in our pupils who were taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and spoke at great length to them about their endeavours. The royal couple were very relaxed, informal and absolutely lovely. Their visit meant so much to everyone here and we are all incredibly saddened to hear of the news today. His contribution to the nation, and to our own history will not be forgotten.”
The Royal Visit was separated into two parts; the first was a private lunch, prepared by Felsted's nervous but excited catering department; followed by a special assembly where Her Majesty unveiled two plaques. These plaques commemorated the 450th anniversary, and also the rebuilding of Follyfield boarding house.
Her Majesty and His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, arrived at Felsted to glorious sunshine. They drove across The Front to be greeted by Felsted pupils and staff. Upon arrival at the Lord Riche Hall, which was opened by Princess Anne in 1989, the Royal couple were greeted to the National Anthem, played by Felsted’s Corps of Drums.
Her Majesty and His Royal Highness were then escorted to lunch by the Headmaster, which began with a Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Terrine, before everyone enjoyed Pheasant Smitane in a Madeira, Mushroom and Cream Sauce. This was finished off beautifully by Spiced Pears poached in Red Wine. Head Girl at the time, Lydia Carrington, who sat next to HRH Prince Philip at lunch, commented; ‘They were both so down to earth and easy to talk to. His Royal Highness was asking me all about my Duke of Edinburgh Gold award. I don’t think it will sink in properly until later on this evening that I actually met them!’
The 450th Anniversary Ceremony followed, with short speeches by the Chairman of Governors and the Headmaster. These were also accompanied by some wonderful singing, including Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’ and a mesmeric performance of the Felsted 450th anthem, ‘Let The People Praise You’, specifically composed for this year by Alexander L'Estrange.
Head Boy at the time, Sam Seacombe commented; ‘It was awe-inspiring to sit on the same table as one of the longest reigning monarchs and Prince Philip, and talk with those who have such a depth of experience. It will be difficult to beat this moment!’
Members of the Felsted Common Room presented HM the Queen and HRH Prince Philip with a painting titled ‘Carol Service Felsted School 1972’ by David Plested, formerly of the Common Room. Her Majesty and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh were also given a leather-bound copy of ‘Garde Ta Foy: The Riche Heritage of Felsted School’ by Alastair Grierson-Rickford, former Common Room member and Felsted Historian.
There was also a presentation of a boot scraper, which is part of a Royal tradition here at Felsted, as HM the Queen Mother also received a boot scraper on her visit for the 400th anniversary. Following the anniversary ceremony, HM the Queen was presented with a posy of flowers by our youngest pupil. She also received a FelsTED bear and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh received a Felsted Tie from the Deputy Head of School.
With great excitement from all the pupils, Her Majesty and His Royal Highness departed by Royal helicopter and could be seen waving to the children as they flew into the distance.