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Greenbelters’ Memories of the British Royal Family

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Since the death of Queen Elizabeth was announced last week, Greenbelt’s Facebook groups and pages have been flooded with remembrances that Greenbelters have with seeing the Queen or other close members of her family, including her visits to towns in Prince George’s County and Greenbelt itself! Here’s what we know so far and if you have other examples, please leave them in a comment and I’ll add them to this round-up. (I’ll fill in more names if other commenters give me permission.)

Queen Elizabeth Visited NASA Goddard in 2007


From the NASA Goddard website:

Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, died on Sept. 8, 2022 at age 96. Her reign spanned all of spaceflight, predating both Sputnik and Explorer 1. As NASA joins the planet in marking her passing, we are moved by the curiosity The Queen showed our explorers over the years.

In this photo, Queen Elizabeth II greets employees on her walk from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center mission control to a reception in the center’s main auditorium, Tuesday, May 8, 2007, in Greenbelt, Md. Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, visited the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as one of the last stops on their six-day United States visit.

Photo by Kevin Parker

Here’s how close Kevin Parker got to the Queen during her visit. He wrote:

I remember having to show up at the crack of dawn to be allowed on the campus. And because my office was in the vicinity, I had the choice of spending the morning either outdoors or hunkered in my office – we weren’t allowed to wander around anywhere near where she was going to be.In the photo Building 3 is in the background as she walked from Building 13 to Building 8. My office was in one of the buildings she was visiting, which is why I would have been stuck there.
James Walsh Barcus Jr. wrote:
I also still work at GSFC and the preparation for their arrival started weeks in advance and then the day of was amazing. They split up for about 1.5 hours and Prince Phillip toured building 029 because we were told he wanted to see the HST hardware that was being prepared for the last Hubble servicing mission in 2009. The entire STS-109 astronaut crew was there to greet him at the top of the steps, by our clean room viewing window and I was amazed at the technical questions he asked. So I got to see Prince Phillip as he toured our Integration and Test facility complex and caught a glimpse of the queen when they were back together at our visitor center. It was a beautiful day and one I remember as if it was yesterday.
April Allen Ashpes wrote “I stood, with a group of people, in Cipriano Square, right across from Goddard. We saw her hand wave as her car came out and turned right on Greenbelt Rd
And Jamie Casey wrote, “We took our 2-year-old out to stand on Greenbelt Road and watch her motorcade pass. It was eerily quiet, Greenbelt Road was completely shut both ways when she zoomed past. We definitely saw an outline of a hat. 😂
Another commenter on Facebook recalled picking up a “doggie’s paw” through the car window as the queen passed by and that the queen smiled and waved back at them.

And a Goddard employee recalled getting some “very close-up pictures” of the queen and Prince Phillip.

Perhaps most exciting was one Greenbelter who remembered that her daughter, who was doing a research practicum for Eleanor Roosevelt HS at Goddard, was asked to present a poster she’d created to the queen.

Queen Attended UMD Football Game and Visited Hyattsville Grocery Store


Check out these photos of queen’s football game

From “Old College Football Story is going around

Queen Elizabeth II took her first visit to the U.S. as a monarch in 1957. During her stay in the States, and being 31 at the time, she attended a college football game. The game was an underdog Maryland team against the University of North Carolina.The Terrapins upset the Tar Heels that afternoon with The Queen in attendance. Later that day, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip stopped in Hyattsville because of a keen interest in frozen chicken pot pies at a grocery store.

Wait – she had a “keen interest in frozen chicken pot pies??? Love it!

From “Queen up in  Aisle 4” by WETA in which we learn that she was interested in far more than pot pies!

On the afternoon of Oct. 19, the royal party attended the University of Maryland football game where they watched the Terps trounce North Carolina, 21-7. On their way back to the White House they stopped in at the supermarket at the Queen’s request. Acting Assistant Manager Donald A. D’avanzo led them on a tour as surprised customers gawked and trailed behind.

The royal encounter made for a memorable afternoon for all involved as D’avanzo told the Washington Post:

“I’ll never forget it. It was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I can’t even eat my dinner. I knew Phillip was behind us on the tour but I was concentrating on the Queen so much that I hardly saw him until he left. I was so amazed and scared.”

The royal visitors seemed particularly fascinated by the selection of non-grocery items in the store, which included toiletries, school supplies, and Halloween costumes. They were also intrigued by the fact that customers could select their own items in the store and pay up front. What a novel concept!

Queen Visited Jamestown, VA in 1957

My sighting of the Queen was during her first visit to the U.S., in 1957. My mother drove my sister and me from our home near Richmond to seen the Queen in person during visit to Jamestown. Here’s one more news story about it.

Memory of 1953 Coronation

Alexander Barnes, Jr. recalls that “We watched this film at a drive-in in the rain. At that time (1953) cars windshield wipers were vacuum powered; so, we had to watch through rain drops.”

Queen Sightings Abroad

April Allen Ashpes writes that “In 1972, in London, my friend had won tickets to the Trooping of the Color. We watched her, in uniform, riding on a horse, as she observed the troops. It was a very impressive thing to see!”

William Jefferson Slade writes that “From a Rabat hotel window, I watched Prince Chuck walking behind the coffin of the late King Hassan II of Morocco in 1999. Clinton was with him.”

Photographing Queen During 1991 DC Visit

Sharon Natoli writes: “I photographed Queen Elizabeth visiting a Boys and Girls club in Anacostia with DC Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon and First Lady Barbara Bush in 1991. I remember waiting for many hours in my position in a designated press area only to have a British photographer run in at the last minute and try to stand in front of me.”

Seeing Now-King Charles during his 2011 Visit to DC

Photo by Susan Harris
I got this close to now-King Charles when he visited DC’s Common Good community garden in 2011. After I posted this photo on Facebook commenter Louise Weissman wrote:

The DC community garden was and is Common Good City Farm, which continues to thrive today. Based in the LeDroit Park area of DC, it was founded in 2007 with a strong commitment to equity. I was on the board at that time, and I was there during the Prince’s visit. The farm has a CSA program, a youth and adult education programs. At that time, our summer program for youth was a 6-week program where the youth worked on the farm and on Fridays a DC chef opened their kitchen to the youth to make a community lunch composed of veggies from the garden.


It was an honor to have the then-Prince visit…Please take time to visit the Farm’s website to learn more about this wonderful community-building program.

Prince Phillip Visited WWF Headquarters

Lynne Hardie wrote, “I met HRH Prince Philip many years ago when he came to Washington, DC to visit the US headquarters of World Wildlife Fund (WWF). He was the International President of the organization and I worked at WWF.”

Btw, I couldn’t find anything online about that visit  so can’t report on the year.

Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com.

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