Queen listens to talk from Lucy Worsley at WI meeting

The Queen attended her annual WI meeting at Sandringham yesterday – with the guest speaker being none other than historian Lucy Worsley.

Looking bright and healthy in a cerise coat, Her Majesty visited West Newton Village Hall for the meeting, an annual fixture in her diary as president of the branch.

The Queen leaves her meeting with the West Newton Women’s Institute at the West Newton Village Hall near Sandringham. Picture by Ben Stevens / i-Images

During the meeting, it was The Queen’s job to present them with competition prizes for chocolate cake and patchwork; she did not give an address as she usually would due to a cough. Ms Worsley then gave her talk on Jane Austen to the some 30 members.

The historian took her mother along to the meeting and described the experience as ‘a bit nerve-racking’.


“We talked about Jane Austen, her bicentennial year and our favourites of her novels. I also talked about Jane Austen being on the banknotes along with another woman, The Queen,” Worsley explained. She is just finishing a book on the famous author.

“But it was all right. I just love talking to people about history, and I got the chance to do it today to possibly the most amazing audience I’ll ever have,” she added.

As tradition dictates, the group had tea and cake, including ginger cake, fruit cake and profiteroles.

Elizabeth II has been a member since 1943, when her mother was president of the branch, formed at the invitation of Queen Mary.

Originally established to offer educational opportunities for women in rural communities, the WI is now the largest women’s voluntary group in the UK with more than 212,000 members in over 6,600 WIs.


The WI’S origins are based in women’s suffrage, meaning it is not all about craft and cooking: the organisation was campaigning on venereal disease in 1922; they called for full, free family planning in 1972; and far ahead of the curve, they demanded the prohibition of female genital mutilation as early as 1983. In 1920, thr bastardy bill – ensuring fathers of illegitimate children would provide them with financial support – began with a movement from the Women’s Institute.

See The Queen arriving at the meeting below:

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