Published for the Royal Commonwealth Society by Henley Media Group
THE 1950s – NEW ELIZABETHANS
The 1953-1954 Commonwealth Tour
It was the chance for the Queen to stamp her personality on the new Commonwealth – a bold diplomatic mission that would change her global subjects’ perception of it forever. Within five months of her coronation Elizabeth and Philip set out upon the most ambitious Royal Tour ever seen, flying to Bermuda after being given a great send off by large crowds from London Airport in the Stratocruiser Canopus. Between November 1953 and May 1954, the royal couple visited 13 countries in the West Indies, Australasia, Asia, and Africa, covering more than 40,000 miles by land, air and sea. Many of the countries had never before seen their ruling monarch.
Arriving in Bermuda after making a detour to avoid a storm, they drove through cheering crowds to St George and Hamilton, and then attended a garden party before flying to Jamaica. There the Queen addressed a joint session of the legislative assembly in Kingston, thanking Jamaica and the rest of the West Indies for their welcome. They left on the liner Gothic, newly refurbished as a temporary royal yacht, escorted by HMS Sheffield, and began their passage through the Panama Canal. They enjoyed a banquet in Panama City before leaving Balboa for the Pacific crossing. En route, the yacht crossed the equator and Prince Philip took part in the ‘crossing the line’ ceremony, and loved throwing novices into the pool...