In the midst of war, Luton received a Royal visit on Monday, April 10th, 1916, when Princess Victoria Louise of Schleswig-Holstein, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, opened the YMCA hut for troops at Biscot Camp.
In keeping with the times, said The Luton News, the visit was devoid of pomp and splendour but it was of paramount importance to Luton. The townsfolk forsook the counting-houses and workshops and their domestic affairs for a glimpse of Royal flesh and blood.
The Princess arrived in the town almost unobserved. She reached Luton by train at about 1 pm and was taken by Lady Wernher to Luton Hoo. By 2 o'clock the route from Luton Hoo Park to the brow of Biscot Hill, with its brown huts and fields devoid of vegetation, was becoming thronged and there was a steady trek towards the rendezvous.
Once there, a passport was required to progress further "and many who relied on social position were disappointed, while others of less standing proudly produced their guerdon and were politely waved forward".
At the Hubbard Hut - as it was at first known because it was donated by the newest member of Luton Town Council, Stewart Hubbard - trumpeters of the London Royal Field Artillery sounded a fanfare and a guard of honour was formed for the Princess.
The Royal visitor arrived by car wearing a heavy black fur coat, relieved at the neck by a small ermine wrap, and a black silk dress of simple cut. She had a large green hat trimmed in the simplest style with a green ribbon, and worn at the slant.
Lady Wernher, under a sealskin coat, wore a dress of rich mauve cloth with a silk corsage of dainty design, and a large mauve hat of distinctive style.
The Princess was greeted by the Mayor, Alderman J. H. Staddon, accompanied by his wife, and by Councillor and Mrs Stewart Hubbard, clergy and Army representatives, and Mr A. K. Yapp, General Secretary of the YMCA.
Declaring the hut open, the Princess said: "I have been asked if it may be named the Princess Victoria Hut. I can only say that I am most proud to comply, and allow this YMCA Hut to bear my name."
Accepting the hut on behalf of the YMCA, Mr Yapp described it as a beautiful building that was light and airy, a tribute to the architect and builder. He was certain it was going to be very much appreciated by the troops who had the opportunity to use it, and by the townspeople of Luton.
"I feel we owe a very deep debt of gratitude to the many friends who have made this place possible. We most cordially thank Mr and Mrs Hubbard for their generous gift."
A guard of honour was drawn up outside as the Royal visitor left the hut. But before leaving Luton, the Princess visited the hat factory of Messrs Vyse, Sons and Co in Bute Street, visiting every department and choosing a design that was later despatched to her.
She then returned to Luton Hoo before catching the 5.30 express back to London, stopped especially at Chiltern Green.
[The slideshow below includes the Princess and Lady Wernher preparing to leave Luton Hoo for Biscot, the trumpet fanfare and guard of honour for the Princess (photos W. H. Cox), and a formal line-up with Town Clerk Mr William Smith, Mr and Mrs Stewart Hubbard, the Mayor and Mayoress, Princess Victoria, Lady Wernher, a lady in waiting and Mr Yapp (photo Fredk Thurston).]