Videos: Queen’s 1975 Bermuda Royal Visit

April 29, 2011
ET Richards with Queen Elizabeth and Governor Sir Edwin Leather

As the world celebrates the fairytale wedding of her grandson Prince William to Kate Middleton today [Apr. 29] at a Westminster Abbey ceremony attended by Premier Paula Cox, Bernews looks back at the Queen’s 1975 visit to Bermuda — her first since she launched a six-month Commonwealth tour here following her 1953 coronation.

The Queen arrived in Bermuda on February 16, 1975 on the first leg of a Caribbean and Mexican tour. She was greeted by Governor Sir Edwin Leather and Premier Sir Eward Richards [pictured with her at left] and a Bermuda Regiment honour guard.

She received a warm welcome on arrival from thousands of Bermudians who had gathered at the airport despite a light rain.

After a brief airport ceremony, the Queen and husband Prince Philip entered an open Rolls Royce and drove the 12 miles to Government House along roads lined with Bermudian well-wishers.

The rare $150,000 Phantom V Landaulette limousine used by the Queen had been loaned to Bermuda for the occasion by Dr. Earl Heath of Philadelphia and had originally been built for Romanian dictator Nikolai Ceaucescu.

During their three days on the island, the Queen and Prince Philip returned to the spot now called Queen’s View beneath Gibbs House Lighthouse — where she had stopped to admire the view over the Great Sound during her 1953 visit.

Red-faced officials had  hurriedly rushed to install a plaque there in the days before her arrival.

Because of a dispute about its siting 22 years earlier, plans to install the plaque had been temporarily shelved in 1953 — and then forgotten.  A Government spokesman said at the time: “The committee set up to plan for this year’s visit were astonished to find out it had never been erected.”

During their time in Bermuda in 1975, the Royal couple visited schools, the National Stadium, Hamilton’s City Hall and conducted a walk-about in St. George’s.

The highlight of the visit was supposed to be the official opening of the Bermuda Maritime Museum [now the Bermuda National Museum] at Dockyard — but the event was partly overshadowed by the discovery the fabled Tucker Cross had been stolen.

The priceless, emerald-encrusted cross was the centrepiece of a treasure recovered from a Spanish galleon which sank off Bermuda in 1593 and had had been recovered by world-renowned Bermuda diver Teddy Tucker.

The cross had been on display at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo after the Bermuda Government bought the treasure from Mr. Tucker in 1959.

Moved to the Maritime Museum where it was to be the focal point of a major new exhibit, Mr. Tucker discovered a plaster replica had been substituted for the real cross just minutes before the Queen was supposed to view it.

Despite a worldwide hunt involving Interpol and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, the cross — termed ”priceless” by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and often described as the single most valuable piece of treasure ever recovered from the sea — has never been found.

The Queen and Prince Philip have subsequently visited Bermuda in in 1976, 1994 and 2009 for the 400th anniversary celebrations of the island’s settlement.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Summer says:

    Nice work Bernews!!!!

  2. hmmm says:

    Interesting. But, Gibb’s Hill overlooks the Great Sound, not Harrington Sound. Harrington Sound is entered via Flatts Inlet – ie, further east.