Stonyhurst's Royal Visitor

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has visited Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, in her capacity as Patron of the Woodland Trust’s First World War Centenary Woods Project. The Princess Royal planted a tree at Stonyhurst alongside the 301 oak saplings planted by the Stonyhurst College Combined Cadet Force (CCF). Each tree represents a serviceman who died in the First World War, and other conflicts, who had attended Stonyhurst. The Woodland Trust’s Centenary Woods Project has overseen the planting of three million trees across the UK this year to commemorate the fallen.

The Princess Royal chatted to cadets and was then given a tour of the historic College by the Headmaster Andrew Johnson. She was shown two Victoria Cross medals which had been awarded to former Stonyhurst pupils in the First World War. One of these was the first VC of the conflict, awarded to Lieutenant Maurice Dease for his bravery in the opening engagement of 1914 at the Battle of Mons. The Princess Royal met pupils and staff from Stonyhurst and representatives from the Woodland Trust.

At a reception in the Top Refectory, which is lined with the portraits of Stonyhurst’s seven VCs, The Princess Royal said in her address: “Stonyhurst is the perfect place for this commemorative tree planting, with its long history and understanding of service.”

“It was a tremendous day for Stonyhurst, the CCF and the Woodland Trust," said Headmaster Andrew Johnson. "We were delighted to be able to welcome the Princess Royal to the College. The staff, cadets and pupils very much enjoyed meeting her.”

Photo: The Princess Royal meets (from left to right): John Cowdall, Chairman of Governors; Andrew Johnson, Stonyhurst’s Headmaster; Olivia Haworth and Victor Keunen (Head Girl and Head Boy).