Dunstable celebrated a historic day, as Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh visited the town, leaving memories to treasure for a lifetime.
Today, Dunstable was ‘proud as punch’, welcoming the Queen and Duke to Whipsnade Zoo, followed by a visit to thrilled residents at Priory View independent living scheme, Church Street.
Dressed in lilac, Her Majesty delighted keepers at Whipsnade Zoo as she unveiled a plaque to mark the opening of the £2m Centre for Elephant Care, home to nine Asian elephants.
A Whipsnade Zoo spokesman said: “Our brand new centre was given the royal seal of approval!
“The Queen is Patron of the ZSLcharity, and she enjoyed a private tour of the centre meeting assistant curator of elephants, Lee Sambrook, and watching the elephants receive a pedicure.
“The latest addition to the herd is ten-month-old calf Elizabeth, who was named in honour of Her Majesty, born the day before The Queen’s 90th birthday!”
The Royals were then greeted by a sea of cheering residents welcoming them to Church Street around midday, including one patriotic punter wearing a 7ft lion costume and waving flag!
The Major of Dunstable, Cllr Peter Hollick, shook hands with Her Majesty, as she prepared to officially open the new state-of-the-art Priory View apartments, dining with residents and meeting some very special subjects.
Pauline Stainsby, a resident who lost her husband on New Year’s Day, was honoured to show the Queen her apartment.
Pauline said: “It was wonderful. She was so gracious – almost ordinary in a way, isn’t she? She was just lovely to talk to. She went into the bedroom and saw the kitchen and lounge and then went on to the balcony as well.”
Her Majesty also met Priory View’s oldest residents George Baker, 93, a former Royal Navy serviceman, and Angela Greene.
George and Angela presented Her Majesty and The Duke of Edinburgh with a posy.
The royal couple’s visit to the town has touched the hearts of many Dunstable residents, giving them a day to remember for the rest of their lives.
Many children on their half term holidays lined the streets, with one lucky four-year-old, Arthur, also presenting Her Majesty with a posy, no doubt having an experience which he will one day tell to his future grandchildren.
Councillor David Bowater, Chairman of Central Bedfordshire Council, was among those presented to the royal party on their arrival at Priory View.
He said: “It has been a terrific honour for Priory View to be chosen for a royal visit and everyone who lives and works here has been delighted and excited to be part of the day.
“With a visit to Whipsnade Zoo too, HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh have been able to see some of the brilliant things which Central Bedfordshire has to offer residents of all ages.”
Ruhelly Begum, scheme manager for Priory View, said: “Her Majesty and His Royal Highness made it very clear in advance of their visit that they were particularly interested in meeting residents of this fantastic scheme.
“Some of them have been living at Priory View for up to a year and it is that they are still just as enthusiastic about their home and everything it has to offer as the day they moved in.”
“Today’s going to be a special day,” said resident George Baker, as he prepared to meet The Queen - and it certainly was.
Do you have memories and pictures which you would like to share from Her Majesty’s visit to Dunstable?