HRH The Duchess of Gloucester visits Princess Helena College as we begin a year of Celebration for our 200th Anniversary

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Princess Helena College welcomed its president Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester, on Wednesday 12 February to An Evening of Dance as part of the schools 200th anniversary celebrations.

HRH The Duchess of Gloucester Meeting 4 students in the library at PHC

Upon arrival, the Duchess was greeted by the Lord-lieutenant and Mrs Sarah Davis, Head of Princess Helena College. Before the show and during the interval the Duchess met with staff and students to hear the latest news from the school and also of the work that had gone into the show.

HRH The Duchess of Gloucester Meeting 4 students in the library at PHC  

HRH The Duchess of Gloucester Meeting staff at PHC

HRH The Duchess of Gloucester talking to students at PHC

HRH The Duchess of Gloucester Meeting 2 at PHC

HRH The Duchess of Gloucester talking to Head of PHC and Head of Dance

Head Mrs Sarah Davis said:


"Our Evening of Dance has been highly anticipated, and the standard, skill and complexity of all the dances were quite outstanding. I was extremely proud of all the students and the staff’s hard work to produce such an amazing event.  


I was therefore delighted to welcome HRH The Duchess of Gloucester back to Princess Helena College.  We have a long history of royal patronage and were honoured that the Duchess could join us as we begin to celebrate our 200th anniversary".


The Duchess has been president of Princess Helena College since 2000 and has visited the school on a number of occasions, including the opening of the Science Block and Arts Centre and to plant a rose in the schools’ rose garden which was originally designed by the influential British horticulturalist and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll circa 1911.

Head of Dance at Princess Helena College, Elizabeth Newland said:

“The Evening of Dance was an outstanding performance, showcasing the exceptional talent of the students here at PHC to a very special audience. We were extremely honoured to have HRH the Duchess of Gloucester attend, and felt privileged that we could show her a wonderful and inspiring evening of dance. Each performance was full of passion and emotion, mesmerising everyone. The show was full of versatility from Ballet to Kpop, Contemporary to Tap, highlighting the diverse range of dance talent. I am extremely proud all of the students involved, their hard work, dedication and passion always amazes me. Well done". 

Dance students performing in red and black check shirts

3 students dancing

The dance performances were a wonderful showcase of the extraordinary talent of the students at Princess Helena College. The evening included GCSE and A-Level dance works, with many of the pieces choreographed by the students themselves in preparation for their forthcoming practical examination. The show was closed by students from across the school performing a dance that had been inspired by the school crest and the rich history of Princess Helena College. Year 12 student Megan said of the evening:

“A lot of time and effort was spent on the performance from both the staff and students. In the lead up to the show we held rehearsals at most breaks and lunchtimes, so I could teach the routine that I had choreographed and refine the movements. The support from both the dance department and Mrs Chambers, my housemistress was immense. It was all worth it in the end, on the night there was nerves as we were performing in front of a lot of people including royalty. However, this pushed us to make it the best performance to show what we can do. It was a really proud moment for me”.

One student in white ballet dress dancing     3 students dancing

The visit from the Duchess comes as the school begins to celebrate its 200th anniversary. Founded as The Adult Orphan Institution by Princess Augusta and Mrs Sophia Williams, to educate orphaned girls whose fathers had been in the Services or Church, and had died. Originally located in Regents Park, the school moved to Ealing and was officially opened by Princess Helena, the third daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who the school is named after. In 1935 the school moved to its current home in Preston, where it is surrounded by 100 acres of beautiful Hertfordshire countryside. In September 2019 the school became co-educational, welcoming the first cohort of boys into Years 7 and 12.

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