Thousands of people turned out in Southend-on-Sea to catch a glimpse of royalty and celebrate Southend-on-Sea becoming a City.
Despite the gloomy March weather, residents and visitors alike travelled into the UK’s youngest City to be part of the historic day.
Their Royal Highnesses (TRH) The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall presented the letters patent to The Worshipful The Mayor, Cllr Margaret Borton, as part of a special council meeting.
During the 50-minute-long meeting which was live streamed from the council’s YouTube account, councillors agreed to become Southend-on-Sea City Council and Lady Amess was formally presented with the first Freedom of the City on behalf of her late husband, Sir David Amess MP.
Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: “The formal meeting and whole day was everything we had hoped; dignified, traditional and inspiring. Thanks to the presence of Their Royal Highnesses, it will be remembered as an even more special day for Southend. I would like to thank all our guests who were invited to represent Southend-on-Sea at the meeting – I just wish we had a bigger council chamber so we could have had more people in attendance on this auspicious day.”
Cllr Tony Cox, leader of the Southend Conservative Group, added: “It was particularly poignant that Lady Amess accepted the first Freedom of the City on her husband’s behalf, because without Sir David’s passionate belief in Southend’s City Status for all these years, we might not be where we are today; it was a fitting tribute to a great man.”
Following the meeting, the Royal couple moved to the seafront, where they formally named the first electric Pier train in honour of Sir David Amess. They then greeted the crowds who had gathered despite the grey weather to get the chance to say hello.
Andy Douglas, headteacher of Milton Hall Primary School, arranged for 84 year six children and some teachers to stand outside Sands. He said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our children and we couldn’t miss it. One of our governors is the Mayor and we took the view to decide on the day and at 11am, with the rain holding off, we decided we would definitely go for it. The children were incredibly excited.”
TRH then met community leaders, charity workers and members of the public at a special event in Sands, hosted by the Miller family.
Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for culture and tourism, said: “It was great to see their Royal Highnesses speaking to the crowds and with representatives from across Southend-on-Sea and it was fantastic having so many interesting people from our City on hand to speak with them.
“Thank you to everyone within the council and others who put so much effort into making the day memorable and a great success. I’d like to thank everyone who was invited for attending, to the Miller family for hosting a special event and for the members of the public who made the effort to come out despite the weather and see our future King.”