On 28th February 1979 the RCOG inaugurated its Golden Jubilee to mark the College’s 50th anniversary. The Jubilee Year was launched by the College’s Patron, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and we are lucky today to have access to a recording of her inauguration speech.
During the inauguration, the Queen Mother was greeted by then RCOG President Sir Anthony Alment and a selection of College Officers.
The College’s Golden Jubilee inauguration welcomed the Queen Mother, photographed greeting Clare Murdoch (daughter of Robin Murdoch, former Vice President of the College) in 1979. The RCOG’s Golden Jubilee was celebrated worldwide among its 6000 strong membership, with meetings, dinners and official visits.
This inauguration marked just one milestone in College’s longstanding relationship with British royalty. From the opening of our original home in Queen Anne Street to the Duchess of Cambridge’s recent visit to the RCOG this week as part of the Best Beginnings event, the RCOG has plenty of practice hosting royal events. This post shares some of our favourite images of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother from our photo archive of royal visits.
Her husband, King George VI, granted the College its Royal Charter in 1947 which made the RCOG the third royal medical college in the United Kingdom after the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Physicians.
The Queen Mother’s apperance at the opening ceremony was a huge victory for the College’s founders and helped established the fledgling College as a leader in maternal health care.The Duchess had originally been approached to support the College by Sir Henry Simpson, who had attended the Duchess during the births of both her children. Simpson had been a supporter of the College from its early days
This event also marked something of a tradition. The Queen Mother became an Honorary Fellow and patron of the College in 1949 and was followed by both of her daughters who became Honorary Fellows in 1951 and 1952. She also attended the College’s Silver Jubilee in 1954.
The Queen Mother laid the foundation stone of our current building in Sussex Place. The headquarters was specially built for the College on land leased from the Crown Estates. As Queen, she had donated £1000 to the College’s building fund in the 1940s, which helped pay for Sussex Places’ eventual construction.
Above the Queen Mother can be seen peering through a microscope in the pathological laboratories during a visit to the RCOG in 1961; below she can be seen admiring the painting by Terence Cuneo of her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II with Fellows, Members, friends of the RCOG and Officers from other Royal Colleges at the opening of 27 Sussex Place a year earlier. The painting is over two metres across and hangs near the main stairs of the College.
The Queen Mother’s younger daughter, Princess Margaret, accepted her Honorary Fellowship of the RCOG five years later.
With her death in 2002, the College lost one of its original allies. But her commitment to improving maternal wellbeing carries on through her younger relatives. As well as Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, the RCOG has welcomed Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and Diana, Princess of Wales as Honorary Fellows and patrons of its affiliated charities.