Six of the best Royal Visits to Leeds

Queen Victoria knights the mayor on a visit to Leeds in 1858.
Queen Victoria knights the mayor on a visit to Leeds in 1858.
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Leeds has a long and distinguished record when it comes to attracting royalty. Here Neil Hudson looks at six of the most prestigious events in the history of the city, all of which had the royal seal of approval


Building Leeds Town Hall was a feat in itself but managing to entice Queen Victoria to open it was the cherry on the cake, as it were. With Britain at the height of its imperial prowess, the reigning monarch visited on September 7, 1858. The city was transformed for the visit.

During her stay, the Queen knighted the mayor and officially opened Leeds Town Hall. She was accompanied by the Prince Consort (Albert), Princess Alice and Princess Helena.

She also visited other parts of the city - a statue of her was later positioned outside the town hall.

KING GEORGE V, 1918 AND 1933

King George V visited the city in 1915, 1918, while the Second World War raged, and again in August 1933. The picture above shows the scene on the arrival of their majesties at Leeds Town Hall.

He was accompanied by Princess Victoria on September 27, 1915, when he presented several officers and men with medals at Becket Park War Hospital. His 1933 visit in August 1933 was to officially open Leeds Civic Hall, work on which had begun in 1931 as part of a major redevelopment of that part of the city, which at the time was dominated by slums.


Leeds, Pudsey, December 10, 1970.: children get a special off-schedule visit from the Prince of Wales, pictured here outside Thornbury Barracks. It was part of a tour of various parts of the city, which also included him opening the now demolished headquarters of the Yorkshire Post Newspaper group on Wellington Street.

Charles, along with other local dignitaries, was shown around the newly built print headquarters and was given a tour of the press room, which contained printing machines several stories high.


Tradition has it that while King Charles I was imprisoned at Leeds he was visited by John Harrison, the Leeds benefactor. Harrison, a Royalist sympathiser, brought the King a tankard of brown ale; concealed in the tankard were gold coins. The story is commemorated in one of the stained glass windows in St John’s Church. Another story has it he hid in the Shire Oak tree to escape government troops.

There is also the story of Mrs. Crosby, a servant of Thomas Metcalf, who it is said, offered to provide women’s clothes for the King to disguise himself.


HRH Princess Anne has visited the city on numerous occasions - she was pictured here visiting a Leeds-based company, The Candy Makers, on Parkside Industrial Estate, Beeston in July 2013.

In 2014, she went to Leeds Metropolitan University (now Leeds Beckett University) as part of a one-day visit to Yorkshire, where she attended a conference organised by the MSc occupational therapy and physiotherapy students.

She met and praised students for their hard work before delivering a speech at the Rose Bowl.


Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth has also visited the city on numerous occasions, the most recent during her Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012 but her first visit was before she came to the throne and took place in July 1949.

She visited Children’s Day at Roundhay Park, which used to take place every year and where ‘Queen of the Day’ Joan Anne Thompson climbed the stage in order to present Princess Elizabeth with a bouquet of flowers.

Princess Elizabeth also had a tour of the city and is pictured here waving to crowds outside Leeds Civic Hall.