From Shakespeare’s Globe Theater on the Thames to the British Library in Camden, Queen Elizabeth II opened more than 100 buildings in London during her seven decades on the throne.
Between his coronation in 1952 and his death last week at the age of 96, the UK’s longest-serving monarch cut the ribbon on new schools, transport lines, hospitals, theaters, bridges and government buildings.
During his long reign, he oversaw the change in architectural styles in the capital, from brutalist buildings on the South Bank to the postmodern structures and high-tech buildings of archistars like Norman Foster and Richard Rogers.
A list, compiled by the Open City charity, gathers more than 122 official openings and openings, ranging from the opening of the Queen’s Building at Heathrow Airport in 1955 to the Elizabeth Line earlier this year.
Here is a selection for each decade.
The Cutty Sark
The queen’s reign was so long that she often returned to a building for a second or third time to open new additions or renovations. The Cutty Sark, a Victorian tea cutter moored in Greenwich as a public attraction, was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1955.
Midway through a major restoration project in 2007, the ship was severely damaged in a major fire which resulted in £ 10 million in damage. Five years later, the queen reopened the ship again, accompanied by Prince Philip, who had a long association with the Cutty Sark.
The Vittoria line
Queen Elizabeth II was the only reigning monarch to ever ride the subway. She took a trip on the Victoria Line during its official opening in March 1969, buying her ticket in Green Park and going to Victoria. She was one of the many new lines and stations in London that she opened during her reign, including the modern Euston Station in 1968. She also opened the Docklands Light Railway in 1987 and the new Elizabeth Line in 2022.
Royal National Theater
In 1976, the Queen opened the National Theater on London’s South Bank, designed by architect Denys Lasdun. The inauguration of the building took place 25 years after the queen had laid a first stone on the site. At the ceremony, she said the new building will create “that particular brand of magic that only theater can provide … to be enjoyed by people of all walks of life and of all ages.”
Together with Prince Philip, the Queen opened the Olivier, Lyttelton and Cottesloe (now Dorfman) theaters in the complex. The National Theater was formally awarded the “Royal” award in 1990.
Other theaters opened by the queen include Shakespeare’s Globe in 1991 and the new Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2011.
The Barbican Center
The Queen opened the new £ 153 million Barbican Center for Arts and Conferences in the City, which is part of the larger housing development, on March 3, 1982.
The largest arts center in Western Europe when it opened, the complex included a concert hall for the London Symphony Orchestra and a theater for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
More than 3,500 people arrived for the opening night celebrations, culminating in a spectacular fireworks display over the downtown lake.
When she unveiled a plaque commemorating the opening of the Barbican, the queen said: “What was created here must be one of the wonders of the modern world.”
The Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery
The Sainsbury Wing, an extension of the 19th-century National Gallery on the northwest corner of Trafalgar Square, was inaugurated by the Queen in 1991. The addition, designed by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, replaced an earlier scheme which infuriated King Charles, at the time the Prince of Wales.
He famously described architect Ahrends Burton Koralek’s scheme as “like a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much loved and elegant friend”. Not far from the controversy, current plans to redesign Venturi Scott Brown’s Sainsbury wing have been condemned by architects and environmentalists.
The Queen “dedicated” the Millennium Bridge in May 2000, after its official opening was delayed due to non-completion. The 325 m long suspension bridge spans the River Thames at Bankside and was the first new crossing to cross the Thames since the opening of Tower Bridge in 1894.
The bridge, designed by architect Norman Foster, was closed for two years shortly after it opened after pedestrians wobbled as they crossed it.
Enclosure of the lions, London Zoo
The Queen was a patron of the London Zoo and opened the “terraces of lions” with Prince Philip in 1976. In 2016 the couple returned to inaugurate the “Land of Lions” exhibition and over the years have opened other enclosures at the attraction.
In a statement, the ZSL London Zoo said it will hold a special photo exhibit to remind you that HM The Queen will be on display in the East Tunnel.
The Elisabetta line
The last grand opening in London for the Queen was in May 2022, when she made a surprise appearance at the Elizabeth Line opening ceremony, named in her honor.
The monarch, who had attended fewer events due to mobility issues, attended the ceremony at Paddington Station to celebrate the completion of London’s £ 20 billion rail link.
At the station he unveiled a plaque that read: “Elizabeth Line. Officially inaugurated by Her Majesty the Queen on Tuesday 17 May 2022 during the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen.