Oxford City Council Communications Officer Sue Hall found herself becoming the story when the Queen visited Oxford on 5 May 2006 to officially open the £40m Oxford Castle complex.

The site includes Malmaison Oxford hotel, in the converted former Oxford Prison, which Sue got a chance to tour with her Mum before it was redeveloped.

Sue took a day off so she could be in pole position to snap a picture of Her Majesty but had no idea of the memorable encounter ahead.

Sue says: “We got here really early to get a good spot in the crowd, as I knew there would be hundreds of people all with the same idea as me. It was an absolutely glorious English summer’s day and the air was fizzing with excitement as we waited for the Queen to arrive. We were all speculating about how she’d arrive and whether or not there’d be a ‘walkabout’ with the crowd.

“A huge black Rolls Royce pulled up and the Queen got out wearing a salmon pink three-quarter length coat with black buttons and a matching hat with a black trim. The crowd went crazy, cheering and waving Union Jacks, it was a real holiday atmosphere”.

The Queen then went in to meet various dignitaries and open a curtain on a plaque marking her visit. On her way out to her car, Her Majesty made a beeline for Sue’s side of the street and to Sue’s astonishment, struck up a conversation.

Sue was incredulous: “The Queen did an impromptu walkabout outside the complex and, despite my shock, I remember her saying to me, “it’s a lovely morning”. I was stunned but managed to thank her for coming to Oxford and said how well she looked and how nice it was to see her during her 80th year”.

Her Majesty then got into her Rolls Royce and the crowds dispersed, with Sue assuming that was the end of the day’s adventure. Sue continues: “I was immediately hijacked by the media, who wanted to know all about my chat with the Queen. It was my first and only experience of going viral, as I then had lots of calls from friends saying “you’re famous, Sue!” The last thing they expected when they watched the news was me chirping up.

“I’ve seen the Queen many times and was in London for her Golden Jubilee but I’ve never seen her so close up as on that day. It isn’t often you get a chance to be so near to such an iconic figure. Despite her fame, Her Majesty was very warm, genuine and down to earth. It was quite an experience”.

Sue’s latest project involves curating an exhibition of images from the Oxford Mail’s archive of the Queen visiting Oxford, which will be displayed at a number of venues throughout the city.

Live like a Queen at the Covered Market

Witney Gazette:

Oxford’s Covered Market - steeped in 250 years of British tradition - has had a history of Royal celebrations including a recent visit from HRH Prince Charles. The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is no exception.

Come and see the market embrace the platinum jubilee as it explodes in red, white and blue, with all kinds of shops, sights and smells to discover. The market is a very family-friendly place to visit and we have an extra treat for the little ones in your life during the Jubilee weekend. From May 23, it’s time to play Spot the Corgi! The more Corgis spotted, the more mini prizes can be won. It’s totally free and all guesses will be entered into an overall prize draw to win a bumper selection of market goodies.

Witney Gazette:

The market is also hosting its first ever inter-trader Jubilee window competition. The winning trader prize is a special treat kindly donated by the Randolph Hotel. So come in and judge for yourselves which shop you think should win.

Witney Gazette:

As well as market-wide fun, keep an eye out for special trader promotions too. Come drink a toast to the Queen’s milestone, or treat yourself to the freshest produce you’ll have ever tasted, from seafood to freshly baked cakes, pizza and a host of sweet and savoury treats delivered fresh to your table while in the market. Stock up on delicious foods for the weekend or have a treat yourself to a new outfit, some fresh flowers or simply a good cup of tea with a friend to help your special bank holiday weekend become the best ever. You know the Queen would approve!

Have a get together in a local park to ‘go green for the Queen’

Witney Gazette:

Join teddy bears Teacup and Tilly in celebrating the jubilee with a picnic in the park.

Oxford City Council is offering the use of the city’s parks for residents who wish to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee by holding picnics with groups of friends and family.

While many residents have applied to the Council to hold street parties, the Council is providing a low-cost sustainable alternative by permitting small-scale celebrations in many of Oxford’s parks.

People are being urged to do their bit to ‘go green for the Queen’, by avoiding using disposable cups, plates and cutlery and taking all their litter home.

Litter isn’t just unsightly, it can cause serious harm and fatality to animals. Port Meadow, in particular, has grazing livestock and cows have previously needed veterinary treatment after eating litter.

Be kind to all animals, including teddy bears, and take your rubbish home with you.

Locations for Jubilee weekend picnics in the park include: 

  • Blackbird Leys Park
  • Botley Park
  • Bury Knowle Park
  • Cowley Marsh Recreation Ground
  • Cutteslowe Park
  • Florence Park
  • Hinksey Park
  • Oxpens
  • Port Meadow
  • Rose Hill Recreation Ground
  • South Park
  • Sunnymead Park

Plant a tree for jubilee

Witney Gazette:

Oxford’s civic leaders planted Maple trees in Bernwood Road, Barton, on 11 March 2022, to mark the 70th day of the year in which the Queen marks 70 years of her reign.

The tree planting forms part of The Queen’s Green Canopy, a nationwide initiative encouraging everyone to plant a tree, hedge or other planting with a focus on sustainability, to create a legacy in honour of The Queen’s leadership.

Sustainable tree planting

Witney Gazette:

Oxford City Council is encouraging people to plant a tree in their garden as part of the Queen’s canopy initiative.

When choosing to plant a tree or hedgerow, follow the principle of “right tree, right place” and research what type of tree works best for your garden. More information is available on the Council website.

  • Trees and hedgerows have a much better chance of surviving and thriving if they are planted between October and April, ideally between November and March.
  • If you have a small garden, choose a small tree. The Council recommend planting small fruit trees.
  • Don’t plant too close to buildings or walls as the tree won’t thrive and you could cause damage to the building.
  • Consider your neighbours: will your tree shade their property or eventually grow over your boundary?

Sponsor a street tree

Oxford City Council is asking local businesses to invest in Oxford’s environment by sponsoring street trees and helping to provide a lasting legacy to mark the Platinum Jubilee.

In response to the climate emergency, the City Council has planted over 10,000 new trees in its green spaces in recent years, and further planned projects include the creation of a community orchard on the Barn Green in Greater Leys and a new avenue of street trees along the Marston Road. It also embarking on a programme to plant more hedges.

Hedgerows provide equal benefits to wildlife and the environment as trees, and can be planted along boundaries of sites where there is no additional capacity for further trees.

The Council now needs help to increase the number of street trees, as they are expensive to provide and maintain. Street trees are particularly important because they reduce pollution in urban areas where it has the greatest impacts on health, and they can provide locals with beautiful environments that create a sense of place and wellbeing.

Local sponsors are needed to fund the initial phase to establish a pavement tree pit, purchase and plant a semi-grown tree and water it for the first three years. The City Council plans to provide a new avenue of street trees in at least one location to mark the Jubilee, but every new tree in the city will make a difference.

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