Our first official link with the royal family began in 1987, when Princess Diana became our patron. However, Guinness’s history with royalty goes back much further.


Coronation day at the estates

In 1953 the coronation of Elizabeth II proved a popular celebration amongst The Guinness Trust residents.

Despite the hardships residents were facing in post-war London, the coronation saw estates’ residents pull together to celebrate the crowning of their new queen.

“‘You looking forward to the party?’ asked Dad.
‘You’ll be helping me on the bingo stall in the afternoon before the main party. Every child in the flats will be there. We’ve had to hire more chairs so you can all sit down together.’
I tried to imagine what five hundred plates of jelly looked like…
‘We’re all going to put up decorations. It’ll be just like Christmas, Billy, but bigger!’
I couldn’t imagine anything better than Christmas and said so.
‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime, Billy,’ said Mum.
‘A coronation. It’s going to be marvellous. You’ll see. Just what we all need.’”

Bill Brown, Billy Brown, I’ll tell your Mother, 2011

Celebrations included fancy dress competitions, re-enactments of the coronation, elaborate balcony decorations, tea parties and lots of cake as the sugar ration had ended the previous year.

Celebrating the Coronation at Loughborough Park

Date: 1953

The prize winning decorated balcony at Loughborough Park, Brixton.

Residents took great time and effort in decorating their balconies for the coronation. Bill Brown’s father won the coveted prize for ‘Best Coronation Display’ earning him £10 in prize money.

“Every night for two weeks, wrapped in brown craft paper and string, parcels arrived… Finally Dad opened all the packages and started to assemble the items. He had made each piece fit accurately together, forming an amazing display frame for a poster of the Queen, which he had got from a billboard company. He had also made Tudor roses in metal, together with telescopic poles holding Union Jacks. The most amazing part was yet to come. At the flick of a switch the whole display lit up.”

Bill Brown, Billy Brown, I’ll tell your Mother, 2011


The royals’ involvement with Guinness

The Queen at Dersingham

Date: 1980

The Queen attending the opening of the Dersingham estate.

Over the years, many members of the royal family have visited Guinness estates and shown their support for our community and design work.

Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh attended the opening of the Dersingham estate in 1980, a joint development with Hanover Housing Association.

In 1955 the Queen Mother visited the newly completed West Ham estate, where she unveiled a plaque to commemorate her visit.

During her visit, the Daily Mail caught a special moment between the Queen Mother and nine-month-old resident, John.

First Hand

Royal visit from the Queen Mother

View transcript

On June the 28, 1984 at John Street in Newham, an enthusiastic crowd awaits the arrival of Her Majesty. She has come to open the new Lord Gage Centre.

Her Majesty accepts a bouquet of flowers from the crowd.

Her Majesty can’t resist a chat with the members of the Luncheon Club.

Originally a young apprentices hostel and home for the elderly, the John Street estate was officially opened by Her Majesty on June the 21 1955.

A bouquet of flowers; as welcomed then as now.

In April 1987 we welcomed Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales as the Trust’s first patron.

Diana expressed a particular interest in the pioneering Smithfield project for homeless people in Manchester, which we were carrying out in partnership with Turning Point (a voluntary organisation that helps people with alcohol and drug problems).

Diana continued to take an active interest in our work and over her years as patron made regular visits to our estates.

In 1997 His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales took over as patron and continues to show a keen interest in the work of The Guinness Partnership and in the wider issues of social housing.

Her Grace the Duchess of Wellington is currently President of The Guinness Partnership, having spent some years as Chair of the Board.

First Hand

Royal visit from Prince Charles

View transcript

I just wanted to say what a real pleasure it is to have this little opportunity to come and see you at Houldsworth Mill once again after my last visit back in 1997, which I remember only too well, when I helped launch this particular generation of project and I went to see it earlier on today.

In Lancashire, I have a particular passion for finding ways of restoring these historic buildings, and one of the reasons, I think, is that I can’t bear waste and when you think how well built so many of these remarkable places were and when you think of the amount of effort, skill and dedication and deep pride that went into building this community by everybody involved.

I feel very strongly that we owe it to them. Very often, I know people in many of these communities look to find ways of keeping them going, so we honour their memory apart from everything else.


250th home in Poundbury

Poundbury is the revolutionary urban village conceived by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales that challenges the preconceptions of social housing.

“The important point is that social tenants are not in a ghetto, but integrated with private homes, offices and factories. This helps make it a living, breathing community in which all the residents can share a sense of pride and where people are happy to live.”

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales

The Guinness Partnership is the largest registered provider at Poundbury, and by the end of 2016 we will own and manage 267 social rented, shared ownership or affordable rented homes in the area.

Poundbury, Dorchester

Date: 2010

Poundbury, on the outskirts of Dorchester; part of the Duchy of Cornwall’s flagship development.

© Anita Corbin

In May 2015, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, handed over the keys to the 250th home we’ve built at Poundbury, Dorset.

Nathan and Sarah Dunford and three of their children (Samantha, 17, Alicia, 10, and Thomas, 2) received the keys to their new home from the prince.

The family had been living in Bridport, West Dorset for 20 years, and were on the waiting list for a four-bed house since the arrival of son Thomas.

Sarah Dunford said: “We’d nearly given up hope of ever being able to move out of our previous house, which was overcrowded, when we were offered this home. We’re overjoyed, and never expected to be offered a property in such a wonderful location. Receiving the keys from His Royal Highness was a fantastic way to celebrate moving in.”

Find out more about the Poundbury development here.

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales with the Dunford family

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales welcomes the Dunford family into their new home at Poundbury, Dorset.