Promoting world-class excellence and chievement through The Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education

Cardiff University's work on facial injuries

New faces at the Ashmolean


The Royal Anniversary Trust was established in 1990 as a registered charity.  Originating with an idea of Sir Robin Gill's, the Trust was conceived as a mechanism through which the nation could mark, during 1992, the 40th anniversary of The Queen's accession and express its gratitude for her 40 years of service as Head of State.  The Trust had four main objectives:

  • To create a programme of celebration to mark the 40th anniversary of The Queen’s accession;
  • To make educational awards;
  • To contribute to public education regarding the development of the constitutional monarchy of the   United Kingdom;
  • To promote industry and commerce and the advancement of education.

In 1992 the Trust completed a widely acclaimed official national programme of celebration marking The Queen’s 40th anniversary on the throne.  The programme consisted of:

The Schools Awards Programme

More than 200,000 school children across the country completed a diverse range of projects making a permanent and visible improvement to their environment.  Projects included reforestation, garden-making, trail-making and building.

The Royal Anniversary Challenge

1,000 plus adult voluntary organisations put forward ideas for bringing lasting benefits to the young, the elderly and those with special needs.  The winners received medals from The Queen and Prince Philip at St. James’s Palace.

The Sovereign Exhibition

A display hosted at the Victoria and Albert Museum which narrated the working and daily life of The Queen and which included new artistic work including the Commonwealth Mace and Goblets, created by the noted silversmith the late Gerald Benney and presented to The Queen by the people of Britain, through the Trust, for use by the Commonwealth.  

The Great Event

A live televised review, presented at Earls Court, of major events and iconic reference points in The Queen’s reign.   

In line with the original concept the funds for this programme were raised without calls on taxpayer funding or public appeal.  Donations were given by industry, commerce, the professions and private individuals.

Following the completion of the 40th anniversary programme and with the approval of The Queen it was agreed that the Trust’s remaining funds be used to create an award scheme to celebrate outstanding achievement by the UK higher and further education sectors.  The establishment of The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education was announced in Parliament by the Prime Minister, with all-party support, in 1993.  Prizes in the inaugural round of the scheme were presented by The Queen in 1995.