The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to visit the Sainsbury Centre at UEA

The University of East Anglia (UEA) will have the honour of welcoming Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh to campus on Friday 27 January when they visit the Sainsbury Centre’s landmark exhibition about the art and cultural history of Fiji.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will be greeted by UEA Vice-Chancellor Prof David Richardson and the Fijian High Commissioner to the UK, Mr Jitoko Tikolevu, before being given a tour of ‘Fiji: Art & Life in the Pacific’.

During the visit The Queen will also meet the exhibition’s curators Prof Steven Hooper, Dr Karen Jacobs and Ms Katrina Talei Igglesden, Sainsbury Centre staff, representatives of UEA Student’s Union, and Fijian students currently enrolled at the university.

UEA Vice-Chancellor Prof David Richardson said: “The Royal Family has a long association with this university, dating back to The Queen’s first visit in 1968, and I am sure our staff, students and visitors will give The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh a wonderfully warm reception.

“The Sainsbury Centre is a cultural jewel in the crown for both UEA and the city of Norwich. It is a great personal honour for me to introduce The Queen to this fascinating exhibition.”

Opened in 1978 to house the private art collection of Robert and Lisa Sainsbury which was gifted to the university, the Sainsbury Centre was the first public building designed by renowned architect Lord (Norman) Foster. It is now one of the foremost university art galleries in Britain.

'Fiji: Art & Life in the Pacific' - the most comprehensive exhibition about Fiji ever assembled - was opened by the President of Fiji, Jioji Konousi Konrote, in October. Guests at the launch event included Sir David Attenborough and Lord (David) Sainsbury. 

Director of the Sainsbury Centre Prof Paul Greenhalgh said: “It is a huge privilege to welcome The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. I am sure they will enjoy this extraordinary show.”

This will be The Queen’s third visit to campus and the eighth by a member of The Royal Family (details about these visits are available here).

In 1968 The Queen and Princess Margaret made separate visits to the still-developing campus, escorted by founding Vice-Chancellor Prof Frank Thistlethwaite. The Prince of Wales visited in 1988 as part of the university’s 25th anniversary celebrations, and Diana, Princess of Wales visited the Sainsbury Research Unit in 1990. In 1994 The Queen opened a new centre for training the region’s occupational therapists and physiotherapists, named The Queen’s Building, and formally opened the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in 2004. The Princess Royal opened UEA Sportspark in 2001, and in 2010 The Prince of Wales visited climate scientists and other researchers in his role as Patron of the School of Environmental Sciences.

The university’s creative writing programme, and school of international development have both won The Queen’s Anniversary Prize – the UK’s most prestigious higher education award. In 2016 INTO UEA won The Queen’s Award for Enterprise (International Trade).

The culmination of a major Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded research project, the exhibition is curated by members of UEA’s Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. It includes more than 280 objects and works of art on loan from museums across the UK and from the Fiji Museum. It includes a wide range of sculptures, textiles, ceramics, ornaments, bowls, weapons and clothing – taking the visitor on a journey through the art and cultural history of Fiji since the late 18th century.

The centrepiece is a newly-commissioned traditional Fijian double-hulled sailing canoe, which also featured in The Queen's 90th Birthday Celebration at Windsor Castle last year. The Queen will also see a very fine tabua, or ceremonial whale tooth, which is on loan from the Royal Collection Trust and was presented to Her Majesty on her first visit to Fiji in 1953.

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Past visits from the Royal Family to UEA