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Princess Anne hears about Syrian refugee crisis on visit to Queen Mary University of London

PUBLISHED: 19:04 13 June 2017 | UPDATED: 19:13 13 June 2017

Princess Anne opens new Graduate Centre at Queen Mary University in Mile End. Picture: KEN MEARS

Princess Anne opens new Graduate Centre at Queen Mary University in Mile End. Picture: KEN MEARS

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Princess Anne has been discussing the Syrian refugee crisis on her visit to east London this-afternoon to open Queen Mary University's new £39 million Graduate centre at Mile End.

Syrian refugee crisis on Princess Royal's agenda meeting Queen Mary university staff. Picture: KEN MEARSSyrian refugee crisis on Princess Royal's agenda meeting Queen Mary university staff. Picture: KEN MEARS

She was introduced to School of Economics lecturer Dr Francesco Fasani, whose research focuses on labour and migration.

Dr Fasani spoke about “the catastrophic situation in Syria” which has forced 12 million people to flee their homes.

Princess Anne meets Queen Mary university students. Picture: KEN MEARSPrincess Anne meets Queen Mary university students. Picture: KEN MEARS

Half were still in Syria, while the six million who fled abroad are mostly now in neighbouring countries, he told her.

This was putting strain on the region in an already-turbulent period in Middle Eastern politics, he added.

Royal guest talks with university lecture staff. Picture: KEN MEARSRoyal guest talks with university lecture staff. Picture: KEN MEARS

The new centre has created an extra 70,000sq ft of postgraduate study, including a 200-seater lecture theatre, seminar rooms, social spaces, a café and even a mock trading floor and trading lab.

The Princess was given a real-time demonstration of the new economics lab, which uses software to simulate a trading floor environment.

Princess Anne enjoys a chinwag at Queen Mary's new Graduate Centre in Mile End. Picture: KEN MEARSPrincess Anne enjoys a chinwag at Queen Mary's new Graduate Centre in Mile End. Picture: KEN MEARS

The seven-storey building is staffed by 45 academics and has a 1,300-strong student cohort, from undergraduate to post-doctoral researchers.

It has accommodation for academics and staff of the university’s School of Economics and Finance.

The Princess meets organisers of the university's annual Festival of Communities staged in Stepney Green. Picture: KEN MEARSThe Princess meets organisers of the university's annual Festival of Communities staged in Stepney Green. Picture: KEN MEARS

The top-floor has a common room for postgraduates that opens out onto a terrace with panoramic views of Canary Wharf and the City.

The Princess Royal, who is the university’s Chancellor, was shown round the lecture theatre which has been named after the late Maurice Peston, founder of the Economics department at Queen Mary’s.

Princess Royal signs Queen Mary University's visitors' book at the new Graduate centre. Picture: KEN MEARSPrincess Royal signs Queen Mary University's visitors' book at the new Graduate centre. Picture: KEN MEARS

She unveiled a stone plaque at the entrance of the Graduate centre before meeting staff at the university’s Centre for Public Engagement and Centre for the Study of Childhood Culture attached to Bethnal Green’s V&A Museum of Childhood.

The Princess, accompanied by university President and Principal Prof Simon Gaskell, also met Prof Thomas Dixon who introduced his team from the award-winning Centre for the History of Human Emotions.

The team then demonstrated their ‘history of lost emotions’ machine that they use on members of the public for their research.

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