As a fanfare rang out across the school grounds, pupils, staff and guests gathered to welcome HRH The Earl of Wessex to The Portsmouth Grammar School to officially open the new Sixth Form Centre.

It has been thirty years since the last royal visit to the school when the Queen Mother visited as part of her visit to the city to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the D-Day landings, so excitement levels were running high throughout the school as everyone awaited the arrival of another royal visitor.

“There has been a great deal of thought and planning put in to the event today,” commented Headmaster James Priory.  “The whole school is involved with His Royal Highness meeting pupils from the Junior and Senior School as well as Sixth Form.  It really is a tremendous day for us all.”

Whilst at the school HRH The Earl of Wessex met the cast of Kiss Me, Kate  the Senior School musical that takes to the stage of The Kings Theatre in Southsea in November.  “It was a bit nerve-wracking performing in front of him,” commented Lewis MacKenzie who has a lead role in the production. “He was standing right in front of us and after we’d performed he chatted with us asking about rehearsal schedules and was really friendly.”

The Earl also met pupils participating in the Duke of Edinburgh Award, hearing about their preparations for the forthcoming assessed expeditions.  He then visited several classrooms in the Sixth Form Centre before proceeding through the building to the ground floor to officially open the centre.

Nervously waiting on the ground floor were two pupils from Year 6 who were handing His Royal Highness a bundle of letters written by their fellow pupils to themselves at 25 describing their aspirations for the future.  “In my letter I write about my pets and where I would like to visit,” said one of the pupils, Alice Collins.  “I hope I’ve been to Australia by then because they have awesome animals and I think that the job I would like to have is a vet.”  William Hartridge was handing the letters to His Royal Highness with Alice, “I was a bit nervous because I’ve not done anything like this before, but I was also really excited to meet him.” 

“As a school we like to think about where our pupils will be at 25 and not just at 18 when they leave us.  We hope that we can set them on the right track to achieve their aspirations,” explains Mr Priory.  “The letters that are being handed to The Earl of Wessex today will be kept and presented back to the pupils at a reunion when they are 25.”

HRH The Earl of Wessex praised everyone involved in the building of the Sixth Form Centre, “Congratulations for having the foresight and vision to put this building in to the heart of the school,” he said.

As the Junior School pupils gathered excitedly waving flags, His Royal Highness officially declared the building open to cheers and rapturous applause.