Royal Occasions and the School
Royal occasions are invariably welcomed by schoolchildren, as they often mean time off. Even the sad ones often bring respite from normal lessons. The Haslingfield School Log Book provides plenty of examples of both.
Queen Victoria must have been particularly popular, with her large number of children and her longevity. The 21st of June 1887 was a public holiday, to celebrate her Golden Jubilee, and school finished early on the next day, so that children could attend the village celebration. Her achievement of a Diamond Jubilee ten years later brought three days’ holiday. In between, in July 1893, the future George V’s wedding was celebrated with a “school-treat”. His coronation in June 1911 merited a week’s holiday.
Thereafter, three generations of children suffered from royal inactivity on the marriage front. “Older children” were allowed to listen on the radio to the launching of the ‘Queen Mary’ in September 1934, and this seemed to herald an upsurge in royal activity. On May 3rd 1935 pupils were given copies of the ‘Silver Jubilee Presentation Books’, “telling in pictures the story of 25 momentous years in the reign of their Majesties”. In the following November, there was another day off when Henry, the King’s son, married the splendidly-named Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott. Alas in January next year George V died, and the school spent most of January 28th in mourning, including attendance at a service in the church where “the children conducted themselves reverently and loyally”. They were rewarded for this loyalty with “a mig or a beaker” to commemorate the coronation of George VI in May of the following year, along with three days’ holiday. The burial of George VI in February 1952 brought a half-day holiday, and the usual distribution of gifts, this time mugs and spoons, followed our current Queen’s coronation in 1953. This was followed by further days off.
The first-ever televised royal wedding, of Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones, in May 1960 occasioned another day off, as of course did the more recent marriage of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer-Churchill. Here’s to more weddings and more Jubilees!
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