The King and The Queen Consort visited Colchester Castle yesterday (7 March 2023) to celebrate Colchester’s modern city status in the Year of Celebration.
Their Majesties were greeted on arrival by a Guard of Honour and the British Army Band Colchester, playing the National Anthem.
Inside Castle Park, The King and The Queen Consort met those who took part in Colchester’s city status procession last year, including charities, volunteers and refugees who have settled in Colchester, alongside schoolchildren taking part in educational visits to the Castle Museum.
Inside the Castle, students from Market Field College showed The King and The Queen Consort objects from the museum’s handling trolley and Their Majesties also met representatives from local organisations who support a range of local communities and conservation projects during a reception to mark Colchester’s status as a modern city, where they viewed the Letters Patent and signed Colchester Castle’s visitor book.
Representatives from the Essex Native Oyster Restoration Initiative (ENORI), led by the University of Essex in collaboration with oystermen, nature conservation organisations and the UK Government, talked to Their Majesties about how they are creating the largest marine restoration project in the United Kingdom. It works to recover native oysters in Estuaries around Essex, aiming to repopulate their numbers to historic levels.
Firstsite, which won Art Fund’s Museum of the Year 2021, spoke to their Majesties about its holiday fun programme, which provides free hot meals to local low-income children and their families, and Next Chapter spoke about the services they provide for survivors of domestic abuse.
During the visit, museum staff highlighted key objects in the collection, including the Fenwick Treasure and Colchester Vase, which has been in the news this week after new research revealed the Gladiator battles depicted on the vase were fought in Roman Britain, in Colchester.
Then, finally, Their Majesties met representatives of Colchester Zoo, who spoke about their leading role in conservation in the UK and overseas. The King and Queen Consort also unveiled the name of its new white baby rhino, Dara.
The Mayor of Colchester, Cllr Tim Young, said: “Yesterday will be a day I will remember for the rest of my life. It will certainly be one of the highest honours of my time as Mayor.
“It was a proud moment for Colchester, and it was wonderful to see so many local residents in the High Street to greet The King on his first visit to the city as Monarch.”