Royal visit in pictures as Princess Anne marks Sheffield court centre's 25th anniversary

The Princess Royal has been warmly welcomed to the Sheffield Crown Court centre where she marked the 25th anniversary of the building’s opening.

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 2:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 4:47 pm

Princess Anne had been due to visit the Sheffield Combined Courts centre, on West Bar, in March, 2020.

The Covid-19 pandemic put paid to such ceremonies but just one day after Freedom Day her long-awaited visit finally went ahead and she was greeted by judges, barristers, clerks, ushers and security staff.

Her arrival with The Lord Lieutenant among a cortege of vehicles outside the court around 11am, on Tuesday, July 20, was a closely guarded secret to reduce a large crowd in what are still sensitive times as society comes out of pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

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Pictured is The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, being welcomed to Sheffield Crown Court by The Sheffield Recorder Jeremy Richardson QC, centre.

Welcomed by The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, and others including The High Sheriff of South Yorkshire, Martin McKervey, The Recorder of Westminster, Judge Deborah Taylor, and other esteemed judges, Princess Anne was introduced to legal staff, barristers and security officers.

The Royal Party proceeded to Court 2 where a ceremony was held with guests including Lady Justice Kate Thirlwall – Deputy Senior Presiding Judge, The Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Gail Smith, and Sheffield’s Master Cutler, and many others who witnessed the event by a video-link.

Judge Richardson said: "The Covid crisis has compelled us to innovate in way that 25 years ago would have been unthinkable – arguably 25 months ago, it would have been unthinkable.”

He added: “This well-built court centre has been able to be adapted and altered to meet all these challenges – and the really tough issue of coping with the administration of justice in a pandemic.”

Princess Anne unveils a plaque at Sheffield Combined Courts Centre and Sheffield Crown Court to mark the building's 25th anniversary since it was opened.

Court 5 also hosted a mock Section 28 hearing to show how vulnerable witnessess can provide evidence within a more supported environment.

Staff accompanied the Royal Party along the main top-floor concourse for an unveiling ceremony of a plaque marking the 25 years since the building was first opened on May 17, 1996, by the then Right Honourable Lord Peter Taylor of Gosforth, the Lord Chief Justice of England.

Lady Thirlwall said: “Through the pandemic Sheffield Combined Courts Centre has been open for business and that is the result of the heroic efforts of the staff.”

Judge Richardson apologised that the 25th anniversary plaque still reads with a date from March 2020 which will be addressed with an explanatory note but its significance in light of the Covid-19 pandemic was not lost on Her Royal Highness.

Princess Anne is introduced to Sheffield Crown Court security staff.

Judge Richardson added: “We are fortunate indeed that 25 years and more ago when this building was being planned, it was built to be imposing – albeit modern. The administration of justice needs to be imposing of style and manner. It is a building that commands respect. It is a building that works.”

The former Sheffield Crown Court building, which was also known as Sheffield Old Town Hall, on Waingate, opposite Castle Market, still stands disused following the move to the new law centre on West Bar in the mid 1990s.

Princess Anne said: “Like all new buildings, they do not seem to turn out as they hoped, though this one did do that.”

Princess Anne is introduced to judges and court representatives at Sheffield Crown Court.
Princess Anne is introduced to barrister James Baird who is one of the longest-serving barristers at Sheffield Crown Court.
Pictured is the Sheffield Crown Court building, on West Bar, which has celebrated its 25th anniversary with a visit for The Princess Royal, Princess Anne.