In Brighton & Hove it has been a week of deep reflection and appreciation for the service of the late Queen along with a strong show of support for the new King, Charles III, as he takes on his heavy duties as monarch with the support of the Queen Consort.
Residents of our city have been paying their personal respects by visiting the City’s three Town Halls at Portslade, Brighton and Hove to sign the books of condolence. The Royal Pavilion has also become focal point where respects have been paid, with residents leaving flowers, signing an additional condolence book and attending the proclamation last Sunday for the new King.
Tributes will continue over the long weekend with the upcoming special bank holiday declared for Monday giving residents the chance to gather with friends and family and provide their final respects to the Queen on the day of her funeral.
Amongst the sadness at the Queen’s passing, there has no doubt been a strong show of support for the new King and Queen Consort in Brighton and Hove. As we begin to look ahead to King Charles III’s reign, there are good signs that the King and Queen Consort reciprocate these feelings and will be active visitors to our city over the years to come.
The new Queen Consort herself has many ties to East Sussex, having grown up at Plumpton and been baptised at Firle Church, and she has also been an regular visitor to the county since assuming Royal duties, earning the respect of many.
In 2011 the then Duchess of Cornwall launched the biannual East Sussex Women of the Year event to celebrate the achievements of women in the professional and voluntary sector and has served as Honorary Patron of this organisation since, which has brought her to East Sussex on many occasions. For example, in 2019 the Duchess of Cornwall helped host the event at the Amex stadium with 250 people present including the then Mayor Cllr Dee Simson, with a theme of tackling loneliness in the community. This event has done a lot of good including raising awareness for charities such as the Carer’s Trust in Brighton and Hove.
The Queen Consort has also shown her support for East Sussex film and culture, recently visiting Shoreham Port to observe the filming of Grace, the tv series based on the Peter James books that is shot across iconic parts of the area including Palace Pier, South Downs, University of Sussex and West Pier. The Duchess was reported to have spoken to the author Peter James about her personal connections to East Sussex including how she used to swim in the sea at Shoreham.
It is clear that the new King has a Queen Consort who has a deep connection to our county and who will no doubt be keen to continue to visit her beloved East Sussex in the future.
The new King also has a history of visiting Brighton & Hove himself going back many decades.
This notably included a visit in 1999, recorded by The Argus, where the then Prince Charles focused on the issue of homelessness. During his visit he attended the Housing Corporation’s annual conference at the Metropole Hotel and visited a local housing project, meeting two previously homeless people who were being supported with accommodation from the Brighton Housing Trust.
With his interest in architecture, he also paid a visit to the West Pier to look at plans for its restoration, plans which sadly never came to fruition. He took a similar interest in the restoration works at the Royal Pavilion when he visited in the 1980s, inspecting the works to restore this icon, which has today become a key drawcard to the city for visitors and a benefit for the tourism industry.
Our former Councillors also recall meeting Prince Charles on his visits as far back as the 1970s, where he was well received by all and took time to speak to everyone at length.
These visits typify his focus on charitable work and love of architecture. As as a City embodying and sharing both these interests, we can surely look forward to visits from the King and Queen Consort in the coming years, perhaps even to one day open a fully restored Madeira Terraces.
Just as Her Majesty the Queen was always here for Brighton & Hove to mark our milestones, such as when she granted our city status and opened major projects such as the George Street renovation scheme and Brighton Marina development, I feel certain the King and Queen Consort will be here for us in future as well. God Save the King.
The above article is a tribute to the new King and Queen Consort written by Cllr Steve Bell and printed in The Argus on Saturday 17 September 2022.