Students and staff of Fitzwilliam College were treated to a visit from the Chancellor of the University, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, as part of an official opening ceremony for the £5 million New Library & IT Centre, designed by Edward Cullinan Architects.

The building, as well as providing 60,000 volumes on open access to students, has been hailed for its innovative architecture, with a stair tower complete with study alcoves providing stunning views across college.

After a short ceremony, in which the Master of Fitzwilliam Robert Lethbridge thanked the chancellor for his continued support and interest in college life, HRH was taken on a tour of the new library as well as through the grounds of the college.

“It was a fitting tribute to a project that has been almost eight years in the running” said a member of staff, “It’s a wonderful thing that HRH recognizes the importance and the value of this new building for the future of Fitzwilliam.”

However, the high security surrounding the event meant that some students were less pleased about the royal visit

“I have been asked to show my Student ID at least 3 times today,” complained one first year student, “and I wasn’t allowed to enter the library whilst the ceremony was going on. Whilst I appreciate this is an important event, it is exam term, and I think the whole thing has been quite disruptive for people who wanted to use the Monday before term starts to revise.”

In a protocol handbook sent round to students, the college emphasized the necessity of ensuring security throughout the visit, and instructed students to have their University ID on them at all times throughout the day, and to refrain from leaving and entering college at the same time as the Duke of Edinburgh.

“It’s a matter of safety,” said a Fitzwilliam Porter, “we want to make sure that the day goes smoothly, and we would like students to be cooperative and help us ensure that the day goes by without a hitch.”

In addition all students who wished to work were made to undergo bag searches, and had to remain inside the library for the entirety of the ceremony.

However, Senior Tutor Paul Chirico maintained that the college, “did not wish to disrupt students’ studies” and that they wanted HRH to see Fitzwilliam in a “near-natural state”.

HRH was also present at the opening of the Fitzwilliam Auditorium in 2002, as well as the College’s recent 125th anniversary.

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