Jubilee Special: Rediscovering our Royal Connections

1 June 2012

As Diamond Jubilee fever sweeps through England and the country is engulfed by bunting and Union Jacks, what better time to give a nod to the RPS’s royal affiliations – the clue, after all, is in the name. The Society gave its first concert “under the immediate patronage of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent” in 1813. Many members were chuffed to see the court and aristocracy in attendance at the Society’s early concerts. The financial benefits of this patronage, however, were questionable; His Royal Highness was not even expected to pay for his ticket. The Dukes of Cumberland, Sussex and Cambridge also regularly made appearances; the last was known to be passionate about music, in particular that of Bach. As it happens, the current Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose to kick off their wedding last year with a bit of JSB too, suggesting good taste in music as well as dresses.

Monarchs have come and gone (albeit not particularly quickly, as this weekend’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations cheerfully bear witness to!) but the Royal Philharmonic Society, soon to celebrate its 200th year, has endured. In recognition of its centenary year in 1913, the Society was granted official permission to add Royal to its name. It now enjoys the immediate patronage of Her Majesty the Queen, to whom the RPS sends the warmest wishes on her Diamond Jubilee! In 1988, as the Society celebrated the 175th year of its foundation, Her Majesty even came to see some of the items in the RPS archive. Here she is taking a good look.

With the Jubilee concert and the Thames Jubilee Pageant to look forward to this weekend, it looks like Her Majesty is helping to sound the trumpet for music! The promise of a four-day weekend, it seems, is temporarily doing away with good old British cynicism, so I’ll be joining in the fun and games, even if we haven’t stretched to bunting in the office.

Helen Pearce

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