Princess Royal unveils memorial to St Albans High School’s old girl Dame Anna Neagle
PUBLISHED: 06:31 31 March 2014
The Princess Royal has unveiled a white marble memorial stone to commemorate a screen legend – one of St Albans’ famous former pupils, who once acted as Queen Victoria.
She was at the service held recently in honour of Dame Anna Neagle, who attended St Albans High School for Girls (STAHS) before becoming a stage and film actress and singer.
The unveiling, which was also in memory of Dame Anna’s husband, award-winning film producer and director Herbert Wilcox, took place at the City of London Cemetery, one of Europe’s largest municipal cemeteries.
Gillian Bradnam, head of the preparatory school, and Robert Allnutt, vice-chairman of governors, represented the High School at the commemoration.
Dame Anna started attending the school at the age of 13, just after making her London stage debut at the Ambassadors Theatre in December 1917 as a child dancer in The Wonder Tales.
She enjoyed her secondary schooling, writing later: “I fitted in immediately like a hand into a glove.”
Dame Anna played tennis with a younger pupil, Kay Stammers, who went on to become one of Britain’s top tennis stars.
A spokeswoman for STAHS said that the actress appeared in several school productions and returned on many occasions over the years, opening the new assembly hall while she was appearing in the long-running West End musical, Charlie Girl.
The Princess Royal knew both Dame Anna and Mr Wilcox well as she had met them on many occasions during her 30 years as president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).
She commemorated the achievements of the actress, who played her great-great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, and the director to whom the princess’s grandfather, King George VI, granted unprecedented filming access at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Balmoral for the making of Victoria the Great and Sixty Glorious Years.
Dame Anna died in 1986, nine years after her husband passed away.