As the world mourns the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, and as cricket joins together to celebrate her legacy, we look back on the monarchy’s long links to Surrey County Cricket Club
The longest lasting connection is Surrey’s use of the Prince of Wales feathers – three white ostrich feathers encircled by a gold coronet – which was granted in 1915. The Oval’s freehold is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall – and the Duke of Cornwall is the heir apparent to the throne.
Queen Elizabeth succeeded her father, King George VI, as the club’s patron and her first visit as monarch came in 1955 during Surrey’s match against the touring South Africans, being introduced to both teams.
Two years later she visited the Guildford Festival but it wasn’t entirely just to watch a game of cricket – the Duke of Edinburgh was an enthusiastic player – given the main purpose was to mark the town’s 700th anniversary. But her arrival in mid-afternoon caused a few headaches given Surrey, who were on their way to a sixth successive County Championship title, had already crushed Hampshire by an innings and 73 runs by 3pm.
An exhibition match had to be arranged quickly and the royal couple watched the final half-hour before meeting the teams.
The Oval is no stranger to mourning the loss of a member of the royal family. When England played India in the fourth Test in 1979, it came just three days after the assassination of Lord Mountbatten, the Duke of Edinburgh’s uncle. The teams and crowd observed a two minute silence before play started.
The Queen’s next visit to The Oval came in 1991, when she opened the Ken Barrington Indoor Centre and Bedser Stand during Surrey’s NatWest Trophy quarter-final against Essex. The club had been forced to beg and borrow indoor facilities before that but now had a custom-built facility, named after one of their greatest players. She was introduced to the two teams by their respective captains, Ian Greig and Graham Gooch.
When The Queen stood down from a number of patronages at the turn of the century, it was passed on to Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, whose most recent visit to the ground came in June for the Big Jubilee Lunch, part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.