Memories of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Kent

We are deeply saddened at the news of the passing of our Queen Elizabeth II.

Her Majesty visited our beautiful county of Kent many times during her reign - as have other members of her family. Too numerous to record here but these are just some of her visits.

1946:  As Princess Elizabeth, she toured Maidstone Zoo in November 1946 and visited the Carriage Museum. Maidstone Zoo was opened to the public from Spring to Autumn each year between 1934 and 1959.


1958:  The Queen visited Kent in her early years on the throne, coming to Folkestone and Dover with the Duke of Edinburgh in April 1958. One of the major Royals to visit in this new era was her sister Princess Margaret - visiting in Folkestone in July 1952. Princess Margaret rounded off her trip with tea at the Leas Cliff Hall!


1963:  In 1963 Queen Elizabeth II and her daughter Anne left Balmoral, Scotland and set off on the night train to Kent ...  to enrol Princess Anne into Benenden School for her first day. Anne attended for five years, leaving in 1968 with six O-Levels and two A-Levels. During this time Anne’s mum visited many times on private visits.


1981:  An official visit was made to the Templar Barracks in Ashford in March 1981. The Queen’s cousin, the late Countess Mountbatten of Burma, lived in Mersham, outside Ashford, so the Queen made many private visits there over the years. The Countess’s daughter, Lady Amanda Knatchbull, married at Ashford's St Mary’s Parish Church in 1987. The royals attended the wedding.


1981:  Our Queen visits Leeds Castle … "Leeds - the loveliest castle as thus beheld in the whole world," wrote Lord Conway, historian of castles. During its lifetime, Leeds Castle has been home to six medieval queens and is often referred to as the “Castle of Queens, Queen of Castles”.

Elizabeth I was imprisoned here for a time before her coronation. Perhaps the most famous owner was King Henry VIII, who transformed the castle for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

In March 1981 the Queen came to visit Leeds Castle and was given a tour of the castle and estate. She was presented with the ‘key to the castle’.

During her visit she also met with a group of disabled people who were visiting under a scheme inaugurated by the Queen, which allows disabled guests to visit the castle for free as guests of the Trustees.

Catherine de Valois, queen of Henry V, acquired the castle in 1422, made repairs and installed the bell and clock in 1435. The clock still strikes the hour ... the bell was last rung when Queen Elizabeth II visited Leeds Castle in 1981.


1989:  In 1989 the Queen attended the Kent County Show in Detling, travelling by Royal train to Bearsted and then taken by car to the showground.


2011:  In 2011 the Queen visited the Invicta Park Barracks in Maidstone where she met Gurkhas from 36 Engineer.


2013:  The year 2013 saw the Queen visit the Howe Barracks in Canterbury to mark the departure of the Sutherland Highlanders. She had previously visited the barracks in November 2004. In 2015 an official visit was made to Canterbury Cathedral to unveil statues of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip on the Cathedral.


  • HM the Queen visited Kent far more times than you mention, including a visit to the Royal British Legion Industries, Aylesford in December 1976 in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Industries. I worked there but wasn’t presented. She apparently visited again fairly recently.

    Mary Hewett
  • Very interesting reading about the Queens visits to Kent. Thank you.

    Sheila Balchin
  • The Queen who was Colonel in Chief of the Royal Engineers also visited Brompton Barracks, Chatham in October 2007 and again in October 2016 to mark the 300th Anniversary of the Corps of Royal Engineers.

    Andy Frost
  • Thank you, I didn’t know of the statues on Canterbury Cathedral. Now I will make a point of seeing them.

    Judith Simpson
  • This was so interesting, to know that the Queen visited Kent and also to be given some historical facts.

    Pat Norris

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