History

GALLERY: Royals at the departure gate


It’s the starting point for many a summer break from the UK and this week, it gets a regal visitor. The Princess Royal is set to open the new terminal extension at London Luton, arriving at the departure gates at the height of holiday season. It will be the latest in a long line of official royal inaugurations for airports around the country. Grab your boarding pass and enjoy this trip to the airport with the Windsors.

Heathrow Airport

It’s the biggest airport in the UK and it’s had plenty of royal support as it’s expanded and grown through the years. The Queen officially opened the central terminal area there in 1955 with a plaque marking the moment viewed by thousands of passengers every year.

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The Queen came face to face with her own history when she returned to open the new Terminal 2, the Queen’s Terminal, in 2014.

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In fact, just about every terminal at Heathrow has been opened by the Queen. She did the honours for Terminal 1 in 1969, spending a lot of time chatting to staff on the check in desks.

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In 1978, she negotiated the station gates as she officially opened the London Underground link to the airport.

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And in 2008, the Queen returned to Heathrow for another official opening, this time at Terminal 5.

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However, in 1986 she had passed on inauguration duties. The Prince and Princess of Wales arrived by train to do the honours for the brand new Terminal 4.

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Gatwick Airport

The second biggest airport in London, Gatwick was officially opened by the Queen in 1958.

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Around the UK

In fact, the Queen has officially opened many of the UK’s main airports. She did the honours at Glasgow in 1966 and at Edinburgh in 1977 while she inaugurated London Stansted’s new terminal in 1991 and London City Airport in 1987. The Queen Mother presided over the opening of the new airport at Aldergrove, Belfast in 1963 while London City Airport Bristol Airport was inaugurated in 1957 by Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent. In 2000, the Princess Royal officially opened a new terminal building at Bristol, returning in 2015 to unveil the extension to the airport. Which brings us very neatly back to Luton where Anne will do the honours for the changes to the terminal building opened by her mother in 1999.

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The Queen unveiled the new terminal on November 25th 1999, a major moment in the history of London Luton which last year welcomed 17 million passengers making their way to and from the UK. On July 30th 2019, they’ll add another royal to that list as Princess Anne continues a Windsor tradition of airside support.



About author

Lydia is a writer, blogger and journalist. She's worked in the media for over twenty years as a broadcast reporter, producer and editor as well as feature and online writer. As well as royals and royal history, she's a news junkie and podcaster.