'A lifetime of duty and devotion' - Remembering the Queen's visits to the south

  • ITV Meridian's Rachel Hepworth looks back at some of the Queen's visits to the south east.

A young girl who did not expect to be Queen, her Majesty devoted her life to public duties, and was still working - even at the age of 96.

Only this week her final public role, to officially ask Liz Truss to form a new government, as she officially became the UK’s new Prime Minister.

Decades of tireless service saw her visit more than 100 countries across six continents on state visits - making her the most travelled monarch in the world. 

During her reign, the Queen has carried out more than 21,000 engagements. She’s made thousands of public appearances, including hundreds across the south. 

Her Majesty was also patron of more than 500 charities. 

And that’s after she passed on some of the responsibilities to other members of the Royal Family - including The Dogs Trust in Salisbury and Sir John Hawkings Knight Hospital in Chatham.  

ITV Meridian has been looking back at the links Her Majesty has to the region, and some of her most iconic visits.

  • Watch as the Queen officially opened the new Gatwick Airport in 1958. Video courtesy of British Pathe

On 10 June 1958, The Queen and Prince Philip flew from London Airport at Heathrow to West Sussex, to officially open the new Gatwick Airport.

It became the first airport in the world to combine air and mainline rail and road facilities, and was known as ‘Britain’s number two airport’.

The Queen was photographed wearing a fitted blue coat with a matching blue and white hat as she was accompanied by her husband on the runway. 

Ten captains formed a guard of honour to welcome Her Majesty, before the couple were escorted to the main airport building.

The Queen officially opened the new Gatwick Airport in June 1958. Credit: British Pathe

On 6 May 1994, the Queen and France's President Francois Mitterrand formally opened the Channel Tunnel.

Two elaborate ceremonies were held in France and Britain. 

Her Majesty then took the first train through the Channel Tunnel.

Many of the Queen's engagements involved transport.  

Her Majesty took the first train through the Channel Tunnel in May 1994. Credit: British Pathe

In March 2015 Her Majesty The Queen officially named Britain's biggest ever cruise liner in Southampton.

P&O Cruises' Britannia, cost £500 million to build.

It was a nostalgic ceremony for The Queen - as the ship was given the same name as the Royal Yacht Britannia named by her Majesty 62 years ago.

A huge celebration took place at Southampton Port, as the Queen released the champagne bottle.

The Queen then went on board the ship to meet kitchen staff.

  • The Queen officially named Britain's biggest ever cruise liner, Britannia in Southampton in 2015.

Her Majesty also visited Reading University in 1957, and opened the re-built Guildhall in Portsmouth in 1959.

The Queen and Prince Phillip also made Windsor Castle in Berkshire their weekend retreat.

They chose to use it as another place they could bring up the children - as well as carry out official duties, hosting visiting heads of state.

The Queen's role as head of the Armed forces brought her to the south many times - often visiting Portsmouth with the Royal Navy.

The Queen visiting the newly opened Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire. Credit: PA

She and Prince Phillip toured the Pinewood studios in Buckinghamshire- visiting the James Bond set.

The Queen's visits to the south will be remembered keenly by those who were there- whether they met the Queen personally or simply  glimpsed her from afar.