The Queen and Bermuda: Visits she has made during her 60-year reign
Over the years Bermuda has approached impending Royal visits with tremendous excitement. These visits have been a time to get the Island in order with new paint jobs for many buildings, and freshening up of local landmarks. Queen Elizabeth II has visited Bermuda four times since she became Queen, and also made a brief stop so her plane could be refuelled at the airport. Here is a quick rundown of her visits.
Our proudest moment was how the Island described Queen Elizabeth IIs first visit to Bermuda in November 1953.
For this historic occasion the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh spent little more than 24 hours in Bermuda as part of a 30,000-mile, six-month tour of the Commonwealth countries. Bermuda was the first stop. The Royals arrived on Canopus, a Boeing 377 or stratocruiser; the same one that would bring Winston Churchill here a week later for the Bermuda Conference. The Queen had sat on the Throne for only six months, and the tour was a way of introducing her to her people. People on the Island rehearsed what they would do on the visit for weeks ahead of time. The couple had a whirlwind tour of Bermuda accompanied by Governor Alexander Hood and his wife. They visited St Peters Church, toured Kindley Air Force base and paraded through Hamilton before paying a visit to Parliament. The Queen later attended a state dinner that was noticeably absent of any black Bermudians. They left to fly on to Jamaica.
The Queen did not return to Bermuda until 1975, 22 years later. Bermuda was experiencing a massive General Strike at the time with workers from the docks, hotels, transportation and sanitation protesting over poor pay. While here, the Queen visited Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. On this visit, the wife of an air force base commander apparently disgraced herself by getting protocol mixed up, despite having practised it endlessly. Instead of shaking hands then taking three steps back and walking away, she shook hands but became flustered, walked away, then turned around, confused. Prince Phillip laughed at this. The Queen stopped on the Island on March 1 that same year, when her plane stopped in for refuelling. While here, she drove around in a $150,000 Rolls-Royce borrowed from a Philadelphia businessman. The car was reputed to have once been owned by Czech communist party leader Alexander Dubcek.
The Queens next visit was in early March 1994. During this visit she took time out to chat with children and accepted freesias from some of them. This was consistent with her other visits. Her press officer explained that she wasnt just in Bermuda to see the dignitaries but to meet as many people as possible. Her itinerary included a visit to Tucker House in St George to see their new archaeological exhibit. At a special dinner at what was then the Southampton Princess, she surprised everyone by touching on the subject of race during a speech about how Bermuda had changed since she first visited. She said, Black people have taken the lead in many areas of national life politics the judiciary and the police to name a few. She also remarked on the surge of international business since her visit in 1977. She was in Bermuda for 44 hours . Her wrist was bandaged after a fall from a horse.
In November 2009, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited to commemorate Bermudas 400th anniversary. While here, the Royals did a little gardening. At Government House they helped plant two new palms alongside various other trees they had planted over the years including a Yew tree. On this occasion, they used the same shovel they had used to plant a tree back in 1953. They recalled how on their first visit to Bermuda, the Island was in the grips of the cedar blight and all the cedars were dying. The Royal Couple took a tour on one of Bermudas fast ferries. As the ferry passed through Hamilton Harbour they passed the Fairmont Hamilton where hundreds of Union Jacks waved. They disembarked in Dockyard where 102-year-old Hilda Smith played the piano for them.
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