The Queen plants tree at iconic East End Christian foundation

The Queen was greeted by East End schoolchildren and community leaders as she visited a centuries-old Christian foundation this morning.

In her first tour of the Royal Foundation of St Katherine in Limehouse, of which she is patron, the monarch spent more than an hour chatting to visitors.

She also helped plant a tree outside the centre’s chapel, which was restructured in 2004 in memory of the Queen Mother who was a patron of the foundation and had visited it many times.

Pupils from Stepney Greencoat School sang a hymn for the royal in the chapel grounds.

Their head teacher, Vivian Onwubalili said: “It was a very special day for the children. The Queen said, ‘you do train them to sing so beautifully.’”

The monarch then went on to meet staff and service users and signed the visitors’ book before she left at midday.

Prebendary David Paton, Master of the foundation, said: “She showed great interest and asked a lot of the users what they found helpful. We were so delighted she got a good impression of what we do here.

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“This is an oasis in the middle of east London where people can come and find tranquillity.”

Cllr Anna Lynch, deputy mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “I felt she was very impressed. This is a great place, particularly in that it offers facilities for all groups.”

Founded in 1147 as a religious centre and hospital for the poor, the foundation is one of the oldest of its kind and has always been in the patronage of the Queens of England.

It has been at its current site since 1948.

Open to all, it offers conference rooms for hire, bed and breakfast accommodation and also acts as a retreat centre.