British RoyalsPrincess Anne and Family

The Princess Royal celebrates an education milestone

It was a ground breaking moment in education and equal rights brought about, in part, by her great, great, great grandmother and this week the Princess Royal has helped mark the 150th anniversary of women being admitted to English universities. Anne hosted a reception at St. James’ Palace in London celebrating a century and a half of higher education for women.

The princess is Chancellor of the University of London which, in 1868, was the first to offer women the chance to sit a special examination to gain entrance. Nine women sat the exam, paving the way for millions more who would follow them to universities in the decades that followed.

They were permitted to take the exam after the granting of a charter by Queen Victoria. That document was one of several historic items linked to this landmark in education which were put on display at the celebratory reception hosted by Anne.

The exam itself took centre stage on the official Royal Family Twitter account which offered followers the chance to take on some of the questions the nine women faced when they sat that historic test in 1868. One is included above – no prizes for the right answer.

In a speech at the event, which took place on January 29th 2019, the Princess Royal paid tribute to those who had led the way in ensuring women had the same access as men to universities, saying ‘’while this decision might seem extraordinary to us today, it was ground breaking at the time’’ before paying tribute to the University of London, adding ‘’it demonstrates…commitment to all students, irrespective of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or social position as one of its founding principles’’.

The Princess Royal also said ‘’it is striking to see the extraordinary contributions that women have made…striking is the diversity of firsts achieved by those women associated with the university’’.

Leaders from across all sections of society were invited to the reception which is the culmination of a year of events marking the special anniversary.

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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.