LITTLE did I know that after writing about a former Prince of Wales and his visit to Andover in the column last Friday, that his niece would be its theme the following week, and indeed the primary subject of newspapers everywhere.

By the time this is printed, there will have already been written thousands, if not millions of column inches, in tribute to the late H M Queen Elizabeth II, who died at Balmoral on Thursday, September 8, aged 96, having reigned for over 70 years.

The late queen may have passed through Andover during her long life whilst on private or semi-official visits to other places but it seems the only time she actually came to Andover for an official occasion was on June 25, 1993, in order to open Alan Child House, the new building for the Hospital Savings Association (HSA), now Simply Health, of which the Queen was patron.

READ MORE: When the Prince of Wales visited Andover

On that day, she had already been to Tidworth to open an innovative games wall, funded by the Foundation for Sports and the Arts and intended to improve the ball skills of youngsters.

Andover Advertiser:  The Queen at Tidworth to open the sports wall. The Queen at Tidworth to open the sports wall. (Image: Newsquest)

Arriving in Andover, just after 4 pm, the Queen was driven to the new building at Borden Gates on a site that had been part of the old bus station.

It was a fine, sunny day and a crowd of around 3,000 people had gathered to see her. As she stepped out of the official car, she was welcomed by the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Lt-Col Sir James Scott, who then introduced her to Test Valley mayor Cllr George King and Cllr Jack Maynard, chairman of Hampshire County Council.

Andover Advertiser: The Queen at Andover, accompanied by Test Valley mayor Cllr George King.The Queen at Andover, accompanied by Test Valley mayor Cllr George King. (Image: Newsquest)

After entering the new building, she met the chiefs of the HAS; unveiled a commemorative plaque; presented an award to Nurse Julie King for outstanding nursing care, and was given a posy by six-year-old Amy Harvie.

She then enjoyed a tour of the new premises and finally emerged for a 10-minute walkabout among the crowd from whom she was presented with multiple bouquets and posies.

Among them was 100-year-old Mrs Grace North who had a prime seat just outside the doors of new building. Finally, the Queen was driven to the railway station, where she left for London on the royal train.

There had long been a folk supposition that the monarch could not visit Andover or indeed any other town if ever the 1714 Riot Act had once been read there.

In Andover, what have been termed ‘riots’ occurred on two occasions: in 1830, when agricultural workers attacked Taskers’ foundry as part of the infamous ‘Captain Swing’ uprising, and in 1914 when various shop windows in the High Street, notably Harvey’s at No 78, were smashed in protest at a magistrates’ decision over an affiliation order.

On neither of these occasions was the Act read out and it is by no means certain that any such reading would in fact have any future effect.

And now in 2022 we have a new king, who at 73 was until last week the oldest heir apparent in history and takes the title King Charles III.

He will no doubt reign in his own way and every tool, symbol, title, insignia and patronage of the late reign will need to be altered and renewed, including the gender of the diverse salutations, at the earliest opportunity.

However, the legal Crown passes from one monarch to the next in the space of a single heartbeat, and the cry instantly goes up - last heard on the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 - ‘The Queen is dead. Long live the King!’ We live in historic times.