Queen Elizabeth II of England will visit the College Friday, May 4, during her trip to the commonwealth, College President Gene Nichol said today in an e-mail sent to students.
p. According to Buckingham Palace, the Queen will arrive in Williamsburg on the evening of May 3. She will visit the Jamestown settlement on May 4 and will attend a luncheon at the Governor’s Palace on Duke of Gloucester Street that afternoon, when she will also visit the College.
p. “We look forward to welcoming Her Majesty back to William & Mary,” Nichol said in his e-mail. “It is the highest of honors. Reaffirming a unique kinship — tracing the steps of a still-talked-about visit of 50 years ago — again sharing the heart of this singular community with The Queen. I look forward to it immensely.”
p. Nichol said that the College is not permitted to reveal the Queen’s plans for her visit, but he has notified Buckingham Palace about College tradition and this year’s senior class.
p. Nichol also canceled classes for the day, the last scheduled day of classes for the year.
p. He acknowledged that the cancellations may pose some problems for students and faculty.
p. “The announcement, I’ll concede, comes closer to the events than is ideal,” he said. “But these limitations inhere in a royal visit. And they will also, we hope, help sustain a unique opportunity for all. Including, I’d note, the College’s staff, for whom appropriate leave will be offered to participate.”
p. Vice President for Student Affairs Sam Sadler said that the College is planning a brief, public ceremony in the Wren courtyard that afternoon.
p. He expects thousands to attend.
p. “It’s pretty exciting for the College,” Sadler said. “The Queen is making two public appearances in Williamsburg, and one will be on our campus.”
p. Sadler also said that the Queen expressed a special wish to return to the College, which she last visited in 1957.
p. “It’s very rare that a British monarch comes to an American university,” Sadler said. “We should all feel very honored. [The visit] really reflects our heritage as a university that was founded by the [British] crown.”
p. Sadler acknowledged that canceling classes was a “challenging decision,” but noted that holding classes would be impractical with so many public attendees and security concerns.
p. “We’ve moved all end-of-class, Blowout activities to Thursday,” Sadler said.
p. He added that the Queen will be accompanied by state police, the secret service and British security. Magnetometers will be placed around the Wren building and all visitors will be screened for security purposes.
p. Printed below is Nichol’s e-mail to students.
p. Dear Students:
p. It’s been said — perhaps you’ve heard — that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will visit the Commonwealth late next week. What hasn’t been shared, until Buckingham Palace gave us permission this morning, is that Her Majesty will spend some time with us at the College on Friday, May 4. We look forward to welcoming Her Majesty back to William & Mary. It is the highest of honors. Reaffirming a unique kinship — tracing the steps of a still-talked-about visit of 50 years ago — again sharing the heart of this singular community with The Queen. I look forward to it immensely.
p. We are bound, for a while longer, not to share too much of The Queen’s itinerary. But I would say that we have talked often with palace staff about the senior class, our traditions, the Wren Building, and its historic bell.
p. It’s possible that some of you have looked forward to May 4, long scheduled as the last day of classes, for somewhat different reasons. But to arrange for a William and Mary welcome worthy of The Queen, Provost Feiss and I have agreed to cancel classes on May 4, making the last day of classes Thursday, May 3. This will pose challenges. And the announcement, I’ll concede, comes closer to the events than is ideal. But these limitations inhere in a royal visit. And they will also, we hope, help sustain a unique opportunity for all. Including, I’d note, the College’s staff, for whom appropriate leave will be offered to participate.
p. We’ll have more to say in the coming days, through e-mail and through the web site www.wm.edu/hermajesty/ about how you can help welcome The Queen.
p. Go Tribe. Hark upon the Gale.
p. Gene Nichol