UWI's Royal Connections

The University College of the West Indies was established by Royal Charter, following the recommendations of the Asquith Commission (for the entire Empire) and subsequently, the Irving Commission (for the West Indies), charged with “...the development of Colonial Universities which will rear the local leaders of the future”.

H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth II has been our “Visitor” since the days when she was Princess Elizabeth.

Her aunt, H.R.H. Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, was the UWI’s first Chancellor. She it was who is responsible for the beautiful Chapel building which she fell in love with when it was part of a sugar estate at Gale’s Valley in Trelawny, and ordered it be transported, stone by stone, and reconstructed at the Mona Campus. On the northern side of the Chapel, running the length of the wall just below one coping, one can still see the name of the original owner of the sugar factory, “Edward Morant Gale Esquire” followed by the date “1799”.

As Chancellor, Princess Alice presided at all the convocations and graduation ceremonies until her retirement in 1971.

Another Royal, H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was an honorary graduate, having been awarded the D. Litt honoris causa in 1965.

The Arms of the University (granted to the University College of the West Indies in 1949)

“Barry wavy of six Argent and Azure an open Book proper bound Gules garnished or on a chief of the third a Lion passant guardant Erminois. For the crest on a wreath of the Colour a Pelican proper”.

Forming the main background of the shield is the sea represented by white and blue (three each) wavy lines on which is the open book; the upper part of the shield, the chief, is red with a Lion to show the connection with the Crown, but the Lion is covered with black spots. This is the Lion borne by H.R.H. Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, appointed by the King (George VI) to be the first Chancellor, so that this appointment is recorded forever in the arms of the University.

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