A Royal Welcome in Birmingham

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are visiting Birmingham on their first formal engagement together today. To celebrate, we looked back at some of the many Royal visits to Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham that have taken place over the years.

1858 and 1887 - Queen Victoria visits Town Hall 

Town Hall was fully completed in 1851. It was the first building in Birmingham suitable for entertaining royalty, and Town Hall certainly did just that. Victoria came with Prince Albert to open Aston Hall, but first came to the Town Hall for a lavish welcome. The hall was packed with people, all surrounding a ceremonial tent when the Queen sat to receive an address of welcome.

Queen Victoria visited many times throughout her long reign as monarch. One other visit was on 23rd March 1887 to lay the foundation stone for the Victoria Law Courts on Corporation Street during her golden jubilee year on the throne. As part of the visit she spent a lot of time in Town Hall and at the Council House as important meeting places for politicians, famous faces, and businessmen alike.

1991 - Queen Elizabeth opens Symphony Hall

As one of the leading concert venues in the UK, the opening of Symphony Hall was a huge event for the West Midlands. Queen Elizabeth officially opened the venue on 12th June 1991, although it had in fact been in use since April that year. 


2002 - The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh celebrate the Golden Jubilee

In July 2012 the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attended a concert celebrating Her Majesty's Golden Jubilee. It featured the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Sakari Oramo, Birmingham Royal Ballet, gospel trio Nu Life, Thomas Trotter and the Dhol Blasters in a concert featuring Elgar's Nursery Suite and Walton's Te Deum. 

I was very honoured to be chosen as one of the staff at SH to be presented to HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. They both spoke to me but I was so overwhelmed to be in their company that I don’t remember a word that was said! Although I was very nervous in the lead up to meeting them, they both made me feel very much at ease and I feel very privileged to have met such important and distinguished people. A real, real honour!

Nikki Fellows, 2002. Assistant to the General Manager of Symphony Hall.

2008 - The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall reopen Town Hall

Town Hall Birmingham was officially re-opened on 22nd April by The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. The Hall closed in 1996 for a £35 million (equivalent to £60.3 million in 2016) refurbishment, undertaken by Wates Construction, that saw Town Hall brought back to its original glory with its 6,000-pipe organ still in place. The Birmingham City Organist, Thomas Trotter, performed a piece of music to a group of school children in 2005 after the majority of the organ had been cleaned. However, the organist and the children all had to wear hard hats as the risk of falling debris remained. He had played the organ each month from the hall's closure to 2005, thus ensuring that it was maintained in playable condition.

During the reopening well-wishers, including 500 school children from across the city, gathered in Victoria Square to give the Royal couple a warm welcome. They were able to watch the proceedings inside the Town Hall through a live link to a big screen.

After being greeted by key city dignitaries, Their Royal Highnesses witnessed the splendour of the Town Hall for themselves and were treated to a performance by two hundred talented students from Elmhurst School for Dance, based in Edgbaston. Thomas Trotter also played for the Royal couple.

2017 - The Earl of Wessex visits CBSO at Symphony Hall

CBSO welcomed their patron, His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex to a concert at Symphony Hall on 14th June, where he met with CBSO conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Steven Osborne and musicians Michael Jenkinson, Graham Sibley and Tomo Keller.

His Royal Highness joined an eager and appreciative Symphony Hall audience to take in performances of Stravinsky’s Pétrouchka, Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3 and Michael Tippett’s Piano Concerto. The concert was broadcast live on Radio 3.

His Royal Highness enjoyed a pre-concert dinner with major supporters of the CBSO and other guests, and over interval drinks he met donors who had supported educational and other special projects this year.


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