Platinum Jubilee: Before she became Queen, Princess Elizabeth visited Worthing in May 1951

As we celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, we look back to the year before she came to the throne, when, as Princess Elizabeth, she had some unplanned encounters while visiting Worthing.

By Elaine Hammond
Friday, 20th May 2022, 10:30 am
Updated Friday, 20th May 2022, 10:31 am

Princess Elizabeth paid a £1 for an NSPCC flag when she arrived at Worthing Town Hall on Saturday, May 19, 1951, following her visit to Courtlands Recovery Hospital in Goring. It was the NSPCC flag day and the lucky flag-seller was Mrs Green, daughter-in-law of Worthing mayor and mayoress Alderman and Mrs C.S. Green. The princess was national president of the society and Mrs Green was the secretary of the ladies committee of the Worthing branch.

The princess readily accepted the invitation to buy a flag and asked: "Are you doing well?" Mrs Green told her they hoped to have a record collection and indeed it raised more than £341, an £81 increase on the previous year's total - which had also been a record amount at the time. The princess was told the result when she presided over the annual meeting in London a few days later and she said she was delighted to hear the news.

The flag purchase was one of several unrehearsed incidents during the two-hour visit to Worthing. In George V Avenue, her car was stopped when she saw 17-year-old Valerie Bean, head girl at Sion School, wanting to hand her a bouquet on behalf of pupils assembled along the pavement. They had been told the procession could not be halted but Valerie stepped forward as the royal car approached and it stopped for her.

Residents from neighbouring towns and villages flooded into Worthing and tens of thousands of people gathered to greet Princess Elizabeth as she was driven around ten miles of the town's roads. During the journey, she asked the mayor questions about the Selden School, converted from a radar station, and the Maybridge council housing estate.

When the princess made her farewells, she told the mayor: "I have enjoyed this morning very much." She added that she was much impressed by the warm welcome received and the arrangments made for her visit. She had shown a keen interest in the youth organisations lining Chapel Road and was intrigued by the plum-coloured berets of three senior Scouts in the parade.

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