Duke of Edinburgh asks guests at opening of new science building “Can you see the plaque?”

PUBLISHED: 17:15 04 November 2016

Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh at the opening of the new science building at the University of Hertfordshire.

Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh at the opening of the new science building at the University of Hertfordshire.

Danny Loo Photography 2016

Dignitaries including the Duke of Edinburgh and a cousin of the Queen joined people from St Albans and Harpenden at the opening of a new £50 million science building.

Prince Philip officially opened the state-of-the-art building at the College Lane campus at the University of Hertfordshire yesterday (Thursday).

He was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd, with people waving the Union Jack, and most bearing mobile phones to capture his visit to Hatfield.

Well known for his quick wit, the Duke of Edinburgh made people laugh by joking before unveiling the small commemorative tablet marking the opening, “Problem is, can you see the plaque?”

He then stepped from the podium, advising nearby media and guests: “Back to work now.”

The Duke of Edinburgh tours the facilities of the University of Hertfordshire's new Science buildingThe Duke of Edinburgh tours the facilities of the University of Hertfordshire's new Science building

Among those attending the event was MEP for the East of England, Vicky Ford, St Albans district council’s chief executive James Blake and Sir Simon Bowes Lyon, the former Lord Lieutenant of Herts.

Sir Simon, who is a cousin of the Queen, told the Herts Advertiser that all those present at the opening ceremony had been involved with the university in some way over the years.

He added: “This is a huge investment, and it’s very pleasing to visit the new building, as you can imagine it being a good social meeting place.”

Sir Simon, 84, said it was great to see the Duke of Edinburgh officially opening the centre, adding, “I think he has been a very loyal supporter of the university, right from the word go, and he has stuck with us.”

The Duke of Edinburgh's signature on a book marking the opening of the University of Hertfordshire's new science buildingThe Duke of Edinburgh's signature on a book marking the opening of the University of Hertfordshire's new science building

Prince Philip’s visit included a tour of the new £50 million building which houses laboratories, cutting-edge research technology and areas for informal learning and socialising.

He saw the simulation suite which has a practical - and educational - version of pharmaceutical and clinical situations, to help train students for careers in nursing, midwifery, paramedic science, pharmacy, optometry and postgraduate medicine.

Prince Philip chatted with numerous people, including Richard Beazley, chairman of the board of governors at the university.

Richard said they spoke about his grandfather, Adam Rawlings: “He noted that in the Second World War he had served with my grandfather in the Pacific.” The Duke was on active service in the Royal Navy throughout the war.

Prof Quintin McKellar, Vice Chancellor, said that it was Prince Philip’s fourth visit to the campus.

While it is well known that the Duke of Edinburgh is involved in many charities, his special areas of interests include scientific and technological research. This has resulted in countless visits to research laboratories.

Prof McKellar said that he first visited 64 years ago, in 1952, to open Hatfield Technical College.

He said: “I think he enjoys coming here, and we are very fortunate that our Chancellor, Lord Salisbury, is a personal friend of his.”

The university has close ties with Oaklands College in St Albans and Rothamsted Research in Harpenden – with which it has plans to commercialise some scientific discoveries, an initiative to be launched later this month.

St Albans district council’s chief executive James Blake praised the state-of-the-art addition, adding, “The University of Hertfordshire is great for the county is a whole.”

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