‘We were pretty special having her here.’ Queen Elizabeth II twice visited Williamsburg during her reign.

·3 min read

When Queen Elizabeth II died Thursday, her ties to Virginia — and especially Williamsburg — were remembered well.

The beloved monarch, who died in the royal family’s Scotland estate at 96, visited Williamsburg twice during her reign.

The queen and husband Prince Philip first visited in 1957 as part of the 350th anniversary to the landing at Jamestown. She and Philip were the first reigning monarchs to visit the College of William & Mary, which was established in 1693 after being granted a royal charter. William & Mary has sent several delegations to London over the years.

During her brief visit to the school in 1957, the queen had tea at the President’s House and spoke to 20,000 people from Sir Christopher Wren Building’s balcony, according to the W&M News Archive.

In 1981, Prince Charles, now the king, visited William & Mary as part of a celebration commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Yorktown. Charles also visited the school in 1993 for its 300th anniversary, during which he was given an honorary fellowship.

By 2007, Queen Elizabeth was back to commemorate Jamestown’s 400th anniversary and became an honorary member of William & Mary’s Class of 2007. During both of her tvisits, the queen stayed at the Williamsburg Inn.

“On behalf of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, I extend my deepest condolences to the royal family and to the people of the United Kingdom on the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” Cliff Fleet, president and CEO of the foundation, said Thursday.

The inn, which is owned by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, has a second-floor suite called The Queen’s Room.

For Williamsburg resident and CultureFix co-founder Steve Rose, the queen’s passing hit close to home. Earlier this year, Rose helped organize Williamsburg’s Platinum Jubilee celebration that recognized her 70 years on the throne.

Rose grew up in Yorkshire, just four hours from London. In fact, he did a few expeditions for Prince Charles.

“Growing up in England, her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, had a young people organization called The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, and I did my Gold Youth of Edinburgh Award. It was a short expedition; you’d do community work at a youth center and everything,” Rose said.

“I got my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and then I went on an expedition which was called Operation Rally, which Prince Charles was the patron of. It was like a four-year expedition. I did two or three months in Indonesia and two in Panama from those four years.”

Rose left the United Kingdom for Virginia in 1993, and he was able to help set up for the queen’s 2007 visit.

“When she came in 2007, I did a lot of stuff because my event business was open by then. It was pretty crazy to be able to work on an event where the queen came over. That was pretty neat,” he said. “I saw her riding the carriage down Gloucester Street to the Williamsburg Inn.”

Rose also joined forces with Saint Andrew’s Society President Douglas Boller and William & Mary Prof. Scott Swan to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee in Colonial Williamsburg and in front of the college’s Wren Building.

“We’re very happy we were able to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee. That was a big deal here in Williamsburg, and it was a very short time ago,” Boller said. “The Saint Andrew’s Society was very sad like most people are with the passing of the Queen. It really is the end of an era.”

A memorial event is currently in the works in Williamsburg, Rose said. More details will come once the queen’s funeral date and time are announced.

“She visited Williamsburg twice, and she doesn’t often visit anywhere twice in the world,” Rose said. “I think we were pretty special having her here.”

Abbey Crank, abbey.crank@virginiamedia.com