King’s Scholars Admitted to Westminster After Seven Decades

By School House

2 years ago

For the first time since 1951, King’s Scholars have been inducted into the College of St Peter, by the Dean of Westminster

At a service on Friday 30 September, the School’s 12 new Scholars joined the Abbey community by presenting their credentials to the Dean of Westminster. They are the latest in a long line of pupils to participate in a ceremony first recorded in 1542, receiving gowns as they were individually admitted, in Latin, by the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle in front of the whole school community and family members.

King’s Scholars admitted to Westminster after seven decades

The eight Fifth Form boys — who won their places through taking the School’s famous Challenge examinations —  and four sixth form girls join College, the original School House that dates back to Queen Elizabeth I, after whom the scholarships were originally named. The new pupils had been Queen’s Scholars for just five days, before the accession of King Charles III, at which moment they and the other 36 Scholars all became King’s Scholars. Unlike in other schools and university colleges, it is Westminster tradition to change the name of the Scholars between King and Queen to reflect the current monarch.

King’s Scholars play a unique role in the life of Westminster School, being part of Elizabeth I’s Royal Foundation of the College of St Peter, which encompasses both Westminster School and Westminster Abbey. They attend certain Abbey services, and have other ceremonial duties to perform in connection with the Abbey and the Crown. Notably, they have historically had a role in the monarch’s coronation. The monarch retains the position of Visitor at the School, and Westminster has a long history of royal visits and patronage.

Following the return of the title King’s Scholars, Sylvie, Captain of the King’s Scholars said: ‘To be called King’s Scholars sounded a little peculiar to all of us at first, I think. We were so accustomed to being the Queen’s Scholars. It has obviously been 70 years since there were King’s Scholars at Westminster, and it’s nice to think there are female King’s Scholars now for the first time; and, as Captain, it is unusual to be Captain of both the King’s Scholars and Queen’s Scholars during the same year. It is an extraordinary experience.’

She added: ‘It has been surprising to me how much you do appreciate the history of being a Scholar at Westminster. There are the traditions, such as wearing gowns and attending weekly Compline in Abbey by candlelight, and there is the general feeling of being part of something. Life in College as a boarder, though, is very similar to in other Houses. Plenty of time is spent in the common room and the kitchen; and it is great to live in the heart of the School. The sense of longevity of being a King’s Scholar and feeling connected to the Abbey and the history of our role is unlike any other in the School.’

The newly elected King’s Scholars reflected on the special privilege of being inducted into College.

Vincent: ‘It’s an incredible feeling, to be a part of this deep royal tradition hundreds of years old which I would never have expected a year ago. At times it feels rather surreal, if I’m honest, especially now that we are the first King’s Scholars in 70 years. That being said, usually I just feel like the average schoolboy joining secondary school, and I’m excited to see what lies ahead at this school.’

Jeremy: ‘It obviously feels surreal to be where I am given the extraordinary circumstances in which we find ourselves. In addition to my experience so far with traditions such as Compline, I have the odd yet thrilling sensation that we as a cohort are part of a historical sequence of events. Hopefully I may live up to the expectations that such a privilege will demand.’

Tej: ‘I am happy with being a King’s Scholar and grateful to be in this position.’

Chengxiang: ‘As a King’s Scholar, I feel lucky to be such an integral part of the British culture and history’

Emir: ‘I feel most privileged to be a King’s Scholar: it comes with responsibilities, but also ultimately brings me pride. One of the best things that come with the scholarship is, without doubt, the tradition. I particularly enjoy Compline, a weekly event in St Faith’s Chapel, and I am looking forward to the Remembrance Sunday Eucharist. The prestige of being part of this institution is simply surreal.’

Moahnishan: ‘I feel proud to have achieved such a feat and I feel as if the hard work and sleepless nights I sacrificed for the Challenge paid off.’

Aarav: ‘I feel like being a King’s Scholar comes with many opportunities, and we get to be a part of a traditional history. It is exciting, there is something new to take part in almost every week, and we get offered many privileges.’

Cheryl: ‘It’s an honour – to be a part of a tradition dating back to Elizabeth I and to be so intimately connected to the Abbey, not to mention being in College, with the loveliest people, matron’s cakes and chess as a pastime.’

Louisa: ‘I feel excited and particularly honoured. It feels amazing continuing traditions that have been performed for such a long time. Having that special connection to the Abbey is something incredible.’

Ira: ‘At a time like this, there is a real palpable connection between the School and Westminster Abbey, which makes it all so much special.’

Ingrid: ‘It is very exciting to be a King’s Scholar and be part of this school legacy. It is something very profound to become a King’s Scholar, especially in light of the recent events. It feels like being part of something bigger than any of us.’

See Westminster School’s online listing here.