Upper School pupils and staff joined invited guests for a special royal visit on Wednesday 15 May. His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester, the first cousin of Her Majesty the Queen, visited school to inspect the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) contingents from Bedford School, Bedford Girls’ School, Bedford Modern School, St Andrew’s School, Rushmoor School and Bedford Free School.
The Duke of Gloucester’s royal inspection was of particular significance as it marked the centenary of the last royal inspection of both Bedford School and Bedford Modern School contingents in 1918 (also held at Bedford School) by the Duke’s grandfather, King George V. Falling just after the end of the First World War, the inspection in 1918 poignantly commemorated the 470 Old Bedfordians who lost their lives in the conflict. Those on parade at the time proudly represented boys and teachers they knew and respected who had lost their lives soon after leaving the school. Fittingly, The Duke of Gloucester’s father, Prince Henry, opened the school’s Memorial Hall in 1926, which also commemorates Old Bedfordians lost in the war, making The Duke of Gloucester’s visit all the more moving.
On arrival, The Duke was met by the Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Helen Nellis, and introduced to the Heads of the six schools that form the two combined CCF contingents and their contingent commanders. The parade was then brought up to a general salute, followed by the inspection itself which finished with a march by the entire parade. The weather could not have been more perfect, and it was quite a splendid sight to see the contingents lined up in neat rows underneath a cerulean blue sky. The Duke then visited Bedford School’s Memorial Hall to unveil a plaque to mark the occasion, which sits alongside his father’s plaque from 1926.
HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire said, “It was wonderful to welcome HRH The Duke of Gloucester to Bedford School during his three-part visit to the county of Bedfordshire. The Inspection of the Cadets was very impressive and it was particularly pleasing that HRH was able to unveil a plaque in the Memorial Hall where his late Father, HRH Prince Henry KG, stood in 1926. It was clear that the staff and students at all the schools involved were proud to demonstrate the high standards they achieve.”
Major Peter Lumley-Wood, Contingent Commander at Bedford School, added, “We were honoured to be inspected by His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester. Our CCF forces, and those of the schools of Bedford in attendance today, have a proud tradition of service. The visit from The Duke of Gloucester some one hundred years after that of his Grandfather is testimony to the heritage of the schools and their ongoing commitment to the CCF.”