As Her Majesty The Queen celebrates her Platinum Jubilee to mark 70 years on the throne, it is interesting to look back at her links to our University.

Her Majesty holds a special place in the University’s history, having visited our Colchester Campus to help us celebrate two key anniversaries and having bestowed recognition on the University throughout her reign.

Our Royal Charter was granted in 1965, just over 10 years after Her Majesty ascended to the throne. Our Charter outlines the objectives and powers of the University: to advance education, scholarship, knowledge and understanding by teaching and research, for the benefit of individuals and society at large.

HM The Queen meeting University of Essex students Her Majesty The Queen meets students during her visit in 2004

Her Majesty The Queen’s first visit to our Colchester Campus was on 17 May 1985 to mark our 21st anniversary. During the royal visit Her Majesty visited the Albert Sloman Library to view items from our Special Collections, before going to see demonstrations of our electronics research and two projects in the UK Data Archive. Thousands of local schoolchildren joined staff and students to greet Her Majesty, who diverted from her planned route in order to speak to many of the well-wishers crowding Squares 4 and 5.

Her second visit to the University was on 25 November 2004 when Her Majesty was accompanied by HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh to mark our 40th anniversary.

Greeted by a joyous atmosphere with flag waving and cheering crowds, Her Majesty The Queen’s visit included meeting researchers from the departments of Biological Sciences and Computer Science and the Centre for Sports and Exercise Science viewing displays of our research including robotics, coral reefs and green exercise.

As a lasting memento of the royal visit, Her Majesty unveiled a commemorative plaque which included the words: “A university should provide an experience of living as well as an opportunity for learning”, a quote from the Reith lectures given by Essex’s founding Vice-Chancellor Sir Albert Sloman in 1963.

The Royal party then chatted to the crowds in Squares 4 and 5 before meeting eight students representing a range of departments and activities in one of the University’s cafes.

In recognition of the University of Essex attracting students from around the globe in 2005 the University won a prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise. This is the most prestigious award for UK businesses and is a globally recognised royal seal of approval for UK companies.

In 2009 Her Majesty The Queen honoured our research excellence through the award of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of the University’s pioneering role in “advancing the legal and broader practice of international human rights”. The Prize is the highest form of national recognition for the work of a UK university. 

Four years later the University of Essex was bestowed with another royal accolade with the award of a prestigious Regius Professorship in recognition of our excellence in research and education in Political Science. Regius Professorships are bestowed by the sovereign. Only 26 have been granted since the reign of Queen Victoria, including 12 in 2013 to mark Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee. Our first Regius Professor was Professor David Sanders and the role is now held by Professor Kristian Gleditsch.

In 2017 the world-leading social science research undertaken by our Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) was also recognised with a prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize.

HM The Queen meeting Professor Dave SmithHer Majesty The Queen finds out more about our Coral Reef Research Unit during her 2004 visit