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From 1946 to 2012 - memories of Her Majesty and her visits to Sunderland

To thousands of Wearside people, she is the Queen who captured their hearts.

Tuesday, 31st May 2022, 12:08 pm

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Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had visited the area more than once and always attracted huge crowds whatever the weather.

Today, we send our heartfelt best wishes to her with a reflection on her time in Sunderland over the years.

She visited Sunderland and the surrounding area in 2012, 2009, 2002, 2000, 1993, 1977, 1954, and 1946.

From a princess to a much-loved monarch. Her Majesty's visits to the area in detail.

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Did you get to meet her and what do you remember of the occasion?

Today, we look back on some of those great moments.1946.Her Royal Highness had just turned 21 and was still a princess when she headed to Wearside for the first time. She was a very welcome guest. Six miles of crowds gave her a rousing welcome.The Sunderland Echo reported at the time: “The skies were leaden, and there was a heavy drizzle of rain, but the reception given gave no doubt about the kindly loyalty of Wearsiders and their affection for the Princess.”The Princess’s first port of call during that visit was to the new Eye Infirmary, where she toured facilities before declaring the building – which was paid for by donations region-wide – officially open.Then she went to the shipyard of Sir James Laing, where she launched the firm’s 770th vessel, British Princess, to the cheers of 6,000 Wearsiders and shipyard workers.“Workmen threw their hats into the air. The sirens and buzzers of ships sounded in a triumphant chorus, ” said the Echo.1954.Strains of Land of Hope and Glory rang out from the crowds as the former Princess Elizabeth made her second official visit to Sunderland – and this time, it was her first as Queen.“After taking tea in the Mayor’s Parlour, the Queen and the Duke signed the visitors’ book. As they emerged, the crowd surged forward and almost surrounded Her Majesty, ” reported the Sunderland Echo.1977.Tens of thousands of people welcomed the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh who arrived at the Wearside boundary from Gypsies Green Stadium.The newspaper said: “Among the crowds were thousands of schoolchildren, who left their classrooms for an hour or so for the rare chance of a glimpse at the Queen as she drove past, ” reported the Echo.“The enthusiastic crowds even cheered every police car which went past during their long wait. When the Queen did arrive, no-one seemed disappointed that they only got a brief glimpse.”1993.Her Majesty and Prince Philip made a spectacular return to the city in May 1993. They were here during a tour of the North East to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Queen’s reign.“As the Royal couple made their way out of the station, they were greeted with cheers and stood while the Durham Light Infantry band played the National Anthem, ” reported the Echo.“Some of Sunderland’s youngest citizens formed a guard of honour on the platform, with Air and Sea Cadets, Guides, Brownies, Cubs and Scouts among the smiling youngsters.”2000.Christmas was approaching when Her Majesty made her return to the area in 2000 to open the new £15 million maternity unit at Sunderland Royal. She met new mothers and staff during the visit.A hospital spokesman said at the time: “We are delighted that Her Majesty the Queen has agreed to officially open our new development. It is a great honour for the Trust.”2002.Just two years later, the Queen returned to open Sunderland’s new £4 million Winter Gardens which replaced the original gardens which were destroyed by Nazi bombers during the Second World War.The Sunderland Echo said at the time: “The warmth of the Queen’s reception – on the second leg of her nationwide Golden Jubilee tour – matched the sub-tropical climate enjoyed by the exotic plants in the Gardens.”2009.Hundreds of excited youngsters waving flags as the Queen gave her official blessing the new £19 million Washington School – after sampling buns and cakes made by students.Pupil Jamie Raynor-Joyce, 16, said: “It was a great honour to meet the Queen, but I was so nervous.”2012.Her Majesty was greeted by Wearsiders who filled the Port and lined the streets to catch a glimpse of her and Prince Philip.The roar of a Vulcan bomber marked the moment the Queen stepped off a £50 million super-yacht, on which she had spent the night.She was shown around the Diamond Jubilee Exhibition before being driven by the Stadium of Light, where flag-waving onlookers had gathered, before she continued a tour of the North East.Among the early arrivals on her Sunderland leg of the tour were Sarah Ogleby, 26, of Sunderland, and 52-year-old Joanna Vezmar.Sarah said: “We’ve followed her all year. We went down for the wedding and we were on the Mall for the Jubilee.”Sisters Anne and Louise Brook, from South Shields, were also in the crowd and Lydia Peverley, 78, of Sunderland, said: “I wouldn’t miss it for the world. If the Queen can come out in this inclement weather then so can I.”What are your memories of Her Majesty visiting Sunderland? Did you meet her or did you just get a fleeting glimpse of the Queen?

We would love you to share your memories and re-live those historic moments.Get in touch by emailing [email protected] We can’t wait to hear from you.

Did you wave to the Queen as she passed the Stadium of Light in 2012?
The Queen is pictured at the Stadium of Light Metro station in 2009.
Queen Elizabeth II at the opening of Sunderland's Winter Gardens in 2002.
The Queen opened Sunderland Royal Hospital's new £15 million maternity unit in 2000 and the crowds turned out in force to see her.
Were you among the crowds who met the Queen at Red House in 1993?
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited Sunderland and Washington in 1977. Were you there?
It's 1954 and Queen Elizabeth II still manages a radiant smile after a tiring day of public engagements. Here she is outside Sunderland Town Hall.
Princess Elizabeth is pictured launching the tanker British Princess at the Deptford Yard of Sir James Laing and Sons in May 1946.