At the end of an exam-laden Summer Half at Eton College, the Fourth of June made its first appearance after a two-year hiatus. Always a glorious occasion, this year’s celebration was unique: being the first for not only Year 9 pupils to experience, but Years 10 and 11 as well. Atan H and Guy S, Press Officers and Year 10 pupils, walk us through their first Fourth of June.
“I’m coming up to the end of my second year at Eton and I feel pretty confident that I have familiarised myself with its eccentricities and opportunities. I’ve attended societies, played lots of sport and learned lots in the schoolroom, but until last Saturday I had never experienced the Fourth of June. Of course I had heard lots of stories from those who had so, naturally, I was very excited to see it for the first time.
I woke up at 7am, as I normally do, but on the way to breakfast I picked up an unusual part of my school dress. My Dame was waiting at the bottom of the stairs beside a table full of wonderfully crafted boutonnières. I attached it onto my left lapel and the buzz of the Fourth of June began.
Next, we had a Chapel service where the hymns were chosen by vote. Obviously, Jerusalem and I Vow to Thee My Country were selected. I have to say, although Years 9 and 10 are normally wonderful singers, Saturday was on another level!
After that, I had some free time so I wandered around the College with my friends to watch some fencing and martial arts, which were being demonstrated in School Yard.
Drinks and canapes followed in the garden, and although the weather was not perfect, the sun came out and the entire Jourdelay’s boarding house community ate and drank together, accompanied by house musicians.
There were countless tents and stools scattered around Mespots, the location for Year 9 and 10 picnics on the Fourth of June this year, which provided all the entertainment and fun needed to match the significance of the day. Parents sat together, whilst pupils made the most of the space by setting up informal games of football and cricket. It was a truly picturesque scene.
Having filled ourselves to the brim with delicious food, we headed over to the river to witness the headline event: the Procession of Boats. I squeezed my way through the crowd and grabbed a front row seat. The spectacle was nothing short of amazing. Rowers from all years, wearing extravagant garments and flower-bedecked hats, were tasked with the challenge of standing up on the boats. All boats managed to succeed, and were met each time with a warm round of applause.
As the day neared a close, we wandered around in an attempt to understand more about what parents thought of this unique event and we were met with only positive responses. When asked what the most enjoyable part of the day was, answers such as ‘it was wonderful to see all the boys together after a Covid-infested last couple of years’ were common, whilst another parent stated that the event allowed them to ‘feel Eton’s traditions and history’.”
From art exhibitions to the First XI cricket match, the Fourth of June has it all. It is safe to say all members of the Eton community had a wonderful time and are looking forward to participating in the event for years to come.