• on 29th May 2023

Charlton’s Royal Memories

Lots people in Charlton have fond memories of either meeting members of the Royal Family or celebrating different Royal events. Here, in pictures, words and films we share some of these memories.

Christine Hennings remembers the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

I remember the coronation of Elizabeth the Second as being a very wet day. My dad hired an enormous TV with a tiny screen, obviously all black and white. I remember being in our small kitchen watching it with loads of neighbours who turned up with their chairs. We had tea out in the road. Then I went to Prentiss Court and joined in their party, dressed as the Queen of Hearts (my cousin lived there.) In the evening some men came in our house and took our piano into the street. My auntie played the piano and there was lots of singing and dancing. I remember that my mum and dad went down to the Royal Oak pub for a drink, the first time I ever saw them go in there.

Sometime later, I’m sure I saw the Queen travelling down Shooters Hill road but I might have dreamed that! We had a street party in Thorntree School. My mum helped organise the party with several other mums.

A Deputy Lieutenant remembers

Cyril Young is a former Deputy Lieutenant of the Royal Borough of Greenwich. He served for 15 years between 1998 – 2013. In this video he shares some of his happy memories.

Memories of the Late Queen Elizabeth II by Jane Lawson

Jane remembers meeting Queen Elizabeth in 2000 when she was invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace. Read her story in this article from the News Shopper.

Jane also shares the guidance she was given on the protocols for meeting the Queen as well as some memories of the day.

Jane also tells us: I remember the coronation too. It was a week before my First Holy Communion and of the two mine was most fun. I remember rolling around the floor, bored out of my skull at my Aunties while the grown-ups watched the Coronation, in front of a tiny television and handed out sandwiches and made cups of tea. It was cold and wet.

Paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

Some of the young people at St Thomas’ Church gave their own tribute to Queen Elizabeth II following her death in 2022. See their story in this film

The Tuesday Group remember

The Tuesday Group and Heathwood Gardens Community are frequent visitors to St Thomas’s. Last year, the Heathwood Gardens Community group commemorated the death of Queen Elizabeth by holding a candle lit vigil in the churchyard.

The Tuesday Group recently recalled their memories of the death of George the Sixth, one member recalling that she remembered the adults around her shocked and solemn, while she, aged thirteen, wondered what all the fuss was about. Another member of the group recalled that Princess Margaret had visited Woolwich to open the largest car park.

The Group shared similar memories of the last coronation, small televisions costing a lot of money broadcasting the service from Westminster Abbey, fish paste sandwiches, tea, cakes and bunting. They recalled a spirit of optimism following the dark days of the Second World War and a feeling of hope for the future.

Ringing the bells for King Charles III

On the morning of the Coronation of King Charles III, Alison rang the bells at St Luke’s. We hope you enjoy this special version of the National Anthem

Gwen Zammit shares her happy memories

The first time I saw anyone from the Royal Family was when Princess Margaret did a tour of South London. At the time I was an infant at Fossdene School and all the children were lined up outside in Victoria Way as her car passed.  We were all so excited and waved our flags with vigour.

As many of you know, I was a Sea Ranger at the Royal Naval College, and Joan Lake was one of our leaders.  The Crew was called “SS Dreadnought”.  Our Skipper came to the meeting one evening saying that the Crew had been asked to provide a guard of honour for HM The Queen when she opened Flamsteed House. We were told we had to have perfect uniforms if we were going to volunteer.  Obviously, we all wanted to be part of the action. We finally turned up on the day and given strict instructions such as we were not allowed to turn our heads as The Queen passed or move in anyway. We were all nervous in case we did something wrong. Afterwards we joined Her Majesty in the marquee in which the speeches took place and we were allowed to stand at the back to watch. The Queen herself had been a Sea Ranger, along with Princess Margaret, and they both did the same training on the Sea Ranger MTB at Dartmouth as Joan and I had, so we noticed that she actually took an interest in us on the day – wonderful.

When I was in the Royal Naval College Choir, I was lucky enough to meet our King (then Prince Charles) when he attended a special event in the Painted Hall. Princess Anne was the Guest of Honour at one of our concerts and she circulated amongst us afterwards during refreshments – also in the Painted Hall. The Prince and Princes Michael of Kent came to another concert as Guests of Honour. However, my final wonderful experience is when I was asked to sing “Rule Britannia” by The Commander of the College, Jonathan Maughan, (who had been the Commander of “The Royal Yacht” on its last journey up The Thames), at the last Trafalgar Night when the Royal Naval formally left the Colllege as its base in 1998. The Royals who attended that Banquet were HRH Prince Philip, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, HRH Prince Andrew. Also in attendance was The First Sea Lord and other dignitaries.

I had met The King before at Ironbridge when we were on a school journey with Halstow. He was opening a Museum and we just happened to be there. He spoke to us and the children too.

In 2011, I stepped down as the churchwarden of St Luke with Holy Trinity to take on the formidable task of organising the events to honour 200th anniversary of the former Prime Minister, Spencer Percival, who had been assassinated in the Houses of Parliament on 11 May 1812. He is interred in the church’s crypt in the vault of the 2nd Earl of Egmont. The PCC asked me to deal with it and bring forward suggestions. We decided on a Commemorative Service to be held on 12 May 2012, to which The Duke of Gloucester attended supported by Viscount Shane Gough, our Patron. The then Bishop of Woolwich, The Right Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave MBE gave the Sermon. I trained the choir and we had a wonderful organist who came to play for the service. Afterwards we had a reception in The Assembly Rooms, followed by a Concert in the evening.

Back on 31 December 2020, I was awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours List for services to the Community of Charlton. This involved a presentation of the Medal in Westminster Abbey by Lord Lieutenant of London as well as a visit to a garden party at Buckingham Palace last year (2022).  Unfortunately HM The Queen was too unwell to attend, but she was represented by HRHs Prince William and Katharine, HRHs Prince Edward and Sophie, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Prince Eugenie.  It was a wonderful time despite some rain.

I believe I have been very lucky to experience various times with The Royals.

Marion Prince shares her memories

Both Marion and her late husband met the late Queen and the King. Marion met Queen Elizabeth when she visited Birchmere pre school on Thamesmead. Marion’s late husband, Charles, met the then Prince Charles at his own place of work in early 1971. The headline read ‘Prince Charles meets Charles Prince!

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