Our Summer concert this year will be in celebration of Her Majesty the Queen's Platinum Jubilee and will be conducted by our
Music Director Marcio da Silva.
The concert starts at 2:30 and lasts for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, followed by celebratory refreshments in St. Gabriel's Hall. You may wish to bring a cushion as the wooden pews feel very hard after sitting for a while.'
BCS is pleased to be supporting CHESTNUT TREE HOUSE as its charity for 2022/23.
Your ticket price includes complimentary finger food and Chestnut Tree House will be serving prosecco and soft drinks at the end of the concert for a donation to their charity. If you intend to donate, please bring some cash as CTH cannot use their card machine in the hall.
Over £4 million a year is needed for CTH to be able to provide such hospice care, in this case for children and young people, and very little of this comes from central government - it comes from the generous donations it receives through fundraising, bequests, shops and so on. For more information about the charity and the essential care it provides see Chestnut Tree House. Thank you.
10 Fascinating Facts About Our Queen
Fact #1: She went up a tree as a Princess and came down as Queen!
Princess Elizabeth and His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, set off early in 1952 on a tour of Australia and New Zealand via Kenya. On the 6th February, the couple had just returned to their Kenyan base, Sagana Lodge, after a night at The Treetops Hotel. Philip was the first to receive news that his father-in-law, King George VI, had died and he informed Elizabeth. This meant that Princess Elizabeth immediately ascended to the throne.
The couple returned to the UK straight away and flew into London Airport as it was known then (Heathrow) and were met by Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister and members of the Royal Household. The Queen chose to retain Elizabeth as her regal name and thus became Elizabeth II. The Princess was christened Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor on the 21st of April, 1926.
Princess Elizabeth did not enter the world in a palace, but was born in a townhouse belonging to her maternal grandparents at 17, Bruton Street, Mayfair.
Elizabeth was the first female sovereign to take her oath abroad since 1755.
Fact #2: The then Princess Elizabeth had to use clothing ration coupons to procure the material for her wedding dress in the autumn of 1947.
The then Princess Elizabeth, who was 21 at the time, had to use clothing ration coupons to procure the material for her wedding dress due to strict rationing measures in place following World War II. It had been purported that the government allowed the Princess 200 extra ration coupons towards her wedding gown which was designed and made two years after the war ended. Heart-warmingly she was also given hundreds of clothing coupons by brides-to-be from all parts of the country to help her to acquire the gown and material for the bridesmaids dresses. She had to return these coupons as it was illegal for them to have been given away in the first instance.
The wedding gown was created by Norman Hartnell. His design for the dress was only approved three months before the wedding. It was a Chinese silk fitted gown with a sweetheart neckline, tailored bodice and long, fitted sleeves. The bodice and full skirt were encrusted with pearl and diamante jasmine blossoms, ears of wheat and star flowers. Hartnell included a secret lucky clover on the inside of the skirt, so that the princess’s left hand “could rest upon it during the ceremony.”
The wedding gown also had a 13-foot-long train inspired by Botticelli’s 1482 painting “Primavera”, bedazzled with crystals and 10,000 seed pearls imported from America. The wedding gown was paired with a diamond tiara and white satin sandals complete with silver buckles studded with small pearls. The dress was stitched by 350 women over the course of nearly two months.
The Princess was flanked by eight bridesmaids, while Philip’s best man was The Marquess of Milford Haven. The venue for the big day was Westminster Abbey and it took place on the 20th of November, 1947. It was the first great celebration of the post-war era and the ceremony was officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher and the Archbishop of York, Cyril Garbett.
Fact #3: The Coronation
Jacqueline Bouvier (later to be known as the First Lady of the United States of America, Jackie Kennedy) attended the Coronation as one of the foreign journalists covering this momentous occasion. Miss Bouvier was working for the Washington Times-Herald at the time.
A Fascinating Acrostic Featuring The Coronation
Coronation Chicken was a recipe invented for the foreign guests who were to be entertained after the ceremony. The food had to be prepared in advance and florist, Constance Spry, proposed a dish of cold chicken in a curry cream sauce with a well-seasoned dressed salad of rice, peas and mixed herbs. The recipe has become a favourite dish ever since.
Over 8,000 guests were present at The Queen’s Coronation, representing 129 nations and territories.
Ring of England is the name of the Coronation Ring, which was placed on The Queen’s fourth finger of her right hand in accordance with tradition. Made for the Coronation of King William IV in 1831, the ring has been worn at every coronation since then, except that of Queen Victoria. Due to Victoria’s tiny fingers, the ring could not be reduced far enough in size and an alternative was created.
Orb was made in 1661 for the coronation of Charles II and it is an essential piece of regalia. It symbolises Christian sovereignty over the earth. It is a globe of gold surrounded by a cross girded by a band of diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and pearls. It has a large amethyst at the summit. During the ceremony the Archbishop of Canterbury places the Orb in the right hand of the Monarch.
Norman Hartnell designed The Queen’s Coronation dress which was made from white satin embroidered with the emblems of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in gold and silver thread. Hartnell had also designed The Queen’s wedding dress five years earlier.
Anointing Oil contains extracts of orange, roses, cinnamon, musk and ambergris (a solid waxy substance originating in the intestine of a sperm whale!). Usually, a batch is made to last for a number of Coronations, but in May 1941, a bomb hit the Deanery where the oil was stored and destroyed the phial, so a new batch had to be made. The anointing ritual is always hidden from view and a canopy was held over The Queen by four Knights of the Garter whilst the Archbishop anointed Her Majesty on her hands, breast and head with the fragrant holy oil.
Television: the BBC coverage of the ceremony was a breakthrough for the history of broadcasting. It was the first such occasion to be televised and for most people, it was the first time they had watched an event such as this happening live on television.
Investiture: The Queen first put on the newly-made Colobium Sindonis, a loose linen-lawn garment, and then a robe of cloth of gold called the Dalmatic or Supertunica. The Lord Great Chamberlain presented the Golden Spurs, the symbol of chivalry, after which the Archbishop of Canterbury presented a Jewelled Sword, and then the Armills, the golden bracelets of sincerity and wisdom. Finally, The Queen puts on a stole and cloth of gold Robe Royal and receives the Orb, The Ring of England, the Glove and the Sceptre.
Out of the 36 million population in Britain at the time, 27 million people watched the Coronation on television and an estimated 11 million listened to the ceremony on their wireless set.
Numerous official photographs were taken in Buckingham Palace after the Coronation, but the most memorable are those taken by Cecil Beaton. For his defining image he posed the Queen in front of a backdrop depicting Henry VII’s chapel in Westminster Abbey. The official artist for the Coronation was Feliks Topolski, a Polish painter who produced a permanent record of the occasion in the Lower Corridor at Buckingham Place. The painting was made in 14 sections, each well over a metre high.
Fact #4: It is a well-known fact that The Queen loves dogs and horses, but did you know that she owns some rare and exotic animals, too?
The Queen is known for her Corgi obsession, which began when she was given a Pembroke Welsh Corgi as a present from her father when she was 6 years old. The Queen currently has two Corgis, one Dorgi (a cross between a Corgi and a Dachshund) and a young Cocker Spaniel. Her Majesty is credited with creating the Dorgi breed when one of her Corgis mated with Princess Margaret’s Dachshund called Pipkin.
The Queen is also passionate about horses and her head groom, Terry Pendry, told ‘Horse and Hound’ magazine that his employer is a “fountain of knowledge” when it comes to these magnificent animals and owns all kinds of top-class breeds.
Whilst dogs and horses have always been associated with Her Majesty, The Queen also owns rare and exotic animal breeds. The year 1961 was a bumper one for exotic gifts for The Queen as she received two pygmy hippos from the president of Liberia and two young Nile crocodiles from the people of Berending, North Bank, The Gambia. In 1968, while on a trip to Brazil, she was gifted two sloths and two jaguars, which she named Marques and Aizita. An African forest elephant named Jumbo was gifted to The Queen by the then-president of Cameroon in 1972 and in the same year the people of The Seychelles gifted Her Majesty two Aldabra tortoises, which can live up to 250 years! The president of Brazil, Artur da Costa, gifted two giant anteaters and an armadillo in 1976 and also an array of toucans, and during The Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, Australia gifted six red kangaroos. These exotic animals have been cared for at the Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) London and Whipsnade Zoos.
Most of Her Majesty’s recent ‘animal’ gifts have been horses; in 2016, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police presented The Queen with a fine black gelding to commemorate her 90th birthday. The beast was named ‘Sir John’ after Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John MacDonald.
Another fascinating fact connecting the Monarchy to animals is that since the 12th century, The Queen has the right to claim ownership of all unmarked swans in Britain swimming in open waters. Historically, this legislation was created because swans were eaten as a prized food at banquets and feasts and it was a good way to protect them. Today, swans are no longer eaten and are a protected species.
Due to a piece of legislation from 1324, the monarch also owns whales, sturgeons, porpoises and dolphins within three miles of the British coastline or if these animals happen to be washed ashore, The Queen could claim them!
Fact #5: The Queen is the only person in all of Britain who is legally allowed to drive without a driver's licence.
Her Majesty learned to drive at the age of 19 in 1945. After a year of begging permission from her father, King George VI, to join the British Armed Forces during World War II, Elizabeth was allowed to enlist, making her the first female from the British royal family to serve in the military.
It was during this time that the then Princess Elizabeth learned how to change a wheel, deconstruct and rebuild engines, as well as drive ambulances and other vehicles. She undertook her training at Aldershot, qualifying on 14th of April 1945. The princess was granted the rank of Honorary Junior Commander and the media title of “Princess Auto Mechanic”.
The Queen is also the only person in Britain who is allowed to drive without a number plate on her state vehicles.
Another fascinating fact connected to driving is that The Queen does not have to obey legal speed limits, whether she’s in the driver’s seat or just along for the ride. The Queen’s royal authority allows her to go as fast or as slow as she pleases. The law currently states that “speed limits do not apply to any motor vehicle being used for police, fire and rescue authority, ambulance or by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) purposes, if observing the speed limit would be likely to hinder the use of the vehicle for the purposes for which it is being used on the occasion”. If Her Majesty was to be caught breaking the law, it is legally impossible to sue or prosecute her.
Fact #6: When travelling overseas, The Queen does not require a British passport.
As this essential document for all foreign travel is issued in the name of Her Majesty, it is unnecessary for the Queen to possess one! All other members of the Royal family, including the Prince of Wales, Prince William and Prince George, have passports.
The first page of British passports contains a representation of the Royal Arms together with the following wording: “Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.”
Although Queen Victoria ruled over 70 territories, she never left Europe. In contrast, Her Majesty is certainly a jet-setting Queen and is the most travelled monarch in history. So far, the Queen has clocked up 265 official overseas visits, the last visit was from 26th to 28th November 2015 when she visited Malta to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
During her reign the Queen has visited every country in the Commonwealth, with the exception of Cameroon, which joined in 1995 and Rwanda which joined in 2009.
The Queen wearing a Mauri ceremonial Kiwi feather cloak.
Gisborne, New Zealand March 1977.
FACT #7: The Queen wears shoe size 4
The Queen wears shoe size 4 and has worn the same style of footwear for over 50 years. Occasionally with more formal evening attire, The Queen will wear a pair befitting her gown, but for everyday wear the style ‘dubbed’ her ‘work’ shoes are hand made by Anello and Davide, the London-based footwear company.
Each pair of Her Majesty’s shoes is made by a dedicated team; this includes a pattern cutter, a clicker (a person in charge of selecting the leather), a closer (who sews the shoe’s upper and stiffens the toe) and a maker, who tops it all off with a sole and heel. Wooden casts are made using the measurements of The Queen’s feet. Her shoes are made from the finest calf leather, typically finished in black patent, being The Queen’s colourway. They are completed with either a brass clasp or small bow. Before the shoes are properly worn, a final fitting takes place, usually at Buckingham Palace, where any last adjustments are made.
Having made her way through hundreds of pairs of shoes during her 70 year reign, it is purported that The Queen keeps 10 pairs on rotation at a time, each with a two and a quarter inch heel to stand on a raised insole to lift her foot’s arch. David Hyatt, who has been in charge of the team who makes The Queen’s shoes at Anello and Davide, once said “We supply one or two pairs a year and occasionally renew the tops and re-heel them as the Queen doesn’t waste money.”
Her Majesty employs staff who are solely (no pun intended) dedicated to shoe care. After wearing a pair for the day, the shoes are said to ‘air out’ on a shoe tree before giving them a polish and placing them in individual silk or cotton drawstring bags.
Everyone knows that after buying a pair of new shoes it is wise to ‘wear them in’ to soften the leather. Many of us have paid the price of putting on new shoes for a special event without taking the time to ‘wear them in’ and end up with painful blisters. The Queen has very little time to herself and would certainly not be able to fit this essential routine into her working day, so Her Majesty’s long-time aid, Angela Kelly, does this job for her as she has the same shoe size.
For the coronation, The Queen had a pair of custom-made Roger Vivier sandals made. Designed by the famous French shoe maker himself, they were crafted out of gold leather, studded with rubies and the designer had also incorporated a fleur de lis motif that corresponded to the Imperial State Crown.
For those dedicated royalists with approximately £14,200.00 to spare in 2020, it would have been possible to purchase an almost exact replica of The Queen’s coronation sandal, created by Roger Vivier’s creative director, Gherardo Fellioni for the label’s spring / summer collection that year. The style was dubbed ‘The Queen sandal’ and was available in pink, black and the original gold colour.
FACT #8: The Queen speaks fluent French
The Princesses with Crawfie
Her tutor and governess, Marion Crawford, an Edinburgh graduate, is said to have taught the then Princess Elizabeth and her sister, Princess Margaret, their language skills as small children. The princesses called Miss Crawford “Crawfie” and she began to teach the girls in 1936, when the Duke of York ascended the throne as George VI, following the abdication of King Edward VIII.
Another interesting snippet of information about Marion Crawford was the fact that she was the named author of a book called “The Little Princesses”, which told the story of her time with the Royal Family. After the book was published in 1950, “Crawfie” was socially ostracised and left Nottingham Cottage (which was in the grounds of Kensington Palace), her ‘grace and favour’ house, which had been granted to her for life. It is rumoured that neither The Queen nor any member of the Royal Family ever spoke to her again.
The then Princess Elizabeth first visited France in 1948, shortly after her wedding. Since then, she had been back five times on official visits. When giving speeches at official functions, it is noted that Her Majesty often switches between French and English when in France or in French-speaking countries, something she has been doing for some time.
There is video footage of Her Majesty holding a nearly ten-minute address in French when visiting Quebec in 1964. It was reported, however, that she was reading the entire speech from cue cards, but it was noted at the time that her pronunciation was excellent.
In 2014, The Queen used her fluent French skills during a Banquet for her fifth French State Visit at the ÉlyséePalace in Paris. During this trip, she visited a Paris flower market with President Hollande and the Paris Mayor, Anne Hidalgo, conversing freely with the people she met there. Neither the President nor the Mayor spoke English confidently, so it was a relief that The Queen was fluent in their language. It is also a know-fact the Her Majesty never uses an interpreter when visiting French-speaking countries.
It is purported that Prince Charles and Prince Willaim also speak French to a reasonably high standard.
The Queen with President Hollande in 2014
FACT #9: On 21st March 1994, Her Majesty fractured her scaphoid bone, which was reported by a palace spokesperson at the time as 'not a serious break, just an inconvenient thing'.
The Queen had been out riding on Saturday as usual on the Sandringham Estate when her horse tripped and fell, and The Queen was thrown to the ground and landed on her wrist. Apparently, Her Majesty’s no fuss approach to illness and injury was in evidence here because the break was not diagnosed until nearly 24 hours afterwards, as it was first thought to be just a bruise.
It is a well-known fact that Her Majesty does not have any known major medical conditions, but has suffered from minor ailments over the years. At the grand age of 96, The Queen seems to be in relatively good health overall. She has hardly ever been in hospital. The last time she was ‘hospitalised’ was in 2013. This was the first time in ten years that she was taken to the private King Edward VII Hospital, suffering from symptoms of gastroenteritis. At the time a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said “The Queen is being assessed at the King Edward VII Hospital, London, after experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis. As a precaution, all official engagements for this week will regrettably be either postponed or cancelled”. At the time Her Majesty was 87 years old and doctors were wary that the Monarch stayed hydrated in order to rid her of these unpleasant symptoms.
Before this instance, it was back in 2003 when The Queen was last in hospital. On that occasion Her Majesty was admitted for surgery to remove torn cartilage in her right knee and remove two small lesions to her face. After only two nights, The Queen left hospital on the 13th of December, with two stitches under her left eyebrow, a black mark under her eye and wearing a pair of trousers covering her knee bandage.
Like millions of people around the world, The Queen has also had COVID-19. On 20th of February, 2022, it was reported that Her Majesty had tested positive for Coronavirus. The palace spokesperson said that Her Majesty was experiencing “mild cold-like symptoms, but expects to continue with light duties at Windsor over the coming weeks”. The Prince of Wales had tested positive on 11th of February and is thought to have infected his mother when he had visited her the following week.
FACT #10:The Queen's favourite type of music comes from musicals such as Oklahoma!, Showboat and Annie Get Your Gun.
On the 12th of June this year, Radio 2 broadcast a fascinating documentary entitled “Our Queen: 90 Musical Years”, revealing Her Majesty’s ten favourite pieces of music. Members of The Queen’s close family, including her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Anson, discussed Her Majesty’s taste in music. The Queen’s cousin said “ Her Majesty loves those tunes that remained in one’s head and were very danceable, too.” She added “The Queen is a fantastic dancer. She’s got great rhythm.”
Eve Pollard, the programme’s presenter, described The Queen’s musical taste as “mainstream, no airs and graces.”
So… what is on The Queen’s playlist of her 10 favourite pieces of music, according to her close family? (These are in no particular order.)
Oklahoma! Performed by Howard Keel
Anything You Can Do (from Annie Get Your Gun) sung by Dolores Gray and Bill Johnson
Sing by Gary Barlow and the Commonwealth Band featuring the Military Wives
Cheek to Cheek sung by Fred Astaire
The White Cliffs of Dover sung by Vera Lynn
Leaning on a Lamp-post sung by George Formby
Praise, My Soul, The King of Heaven (hymn tune: Lauda Anima)
The Lord is My Shepherd (traditional Crimond version by Jessie Seymour Irvine)
Lester Lanin and His Orchestra - Medley
Regimental March Milanollo (Quick March of the Coldstream Guards)
Lady Anson also told the Radio 2 presenter that Her Majesty is particularly knowledgeable about military music and is a fan of pipe bands. She also mentioned the fact that “We did a lot of singing at Kensington Palace.” Lady Anson went on to say that “Nobody thought it was odd after dinner if we put on a record and all sang ‘Doing the Lambeth Walk’, so music has always been a part of The Queen’s life.”
BCS is looking forward to performing many of the pieces that will be familiar to Her Majesty; some that were included in her Coronation and other pieces that she will have heard throughout her long reign.
Do come along and support the choir and enjoy the wonderful musical programme in its “Jubilee Concert “ on the 2nd of July. Please see above for further details and click on ‘Buy Tickets’ if you would like to join in the celebrations. We will be supporting Chestnut Tree House Charity again at this concert and you will be invited to make a donation towards the refreshments. Please bring some cash (there is no WiFi in the church hall for a card reader) and a cushion, as this will aid your enjoyment throughout the afternoon. The concert venue is St. Gabriel’s Church, Billingshurst and it begins at 2.30pm.