Royalty on Island Shores

The month of March not only brings blossoming spring flowers,  but also British royalty to the shores of the Bahamas, whose clear aquamarine waters and white sandy beaches are simply breathtaking for both the poor and the prosperous.

The island nation’s British legacy started in the early 1700’s when King George I appointed an English sea captain, Woodes Rogers, as first Royal Governor of the Bahamas.  British monarchs reigned until the nation’s independence in July 1973.  The country remains a member of the British Commonwealth.

A few weeks ago Prince Edward and wife, Sophie, the Earl and Countess of Wessex arrived in the Nassau for the GGYA (Governor General’s Youth Award) presentations.  Their Royal visit  included a quick stop to Abaco, including picturesque Hope Town, a loyalist settlement rich in Bahamian history.  Explore its island heritage with a stop to the Wyannie Malone Historical Museum. Wyannie Malone (my 5th great grandmother) is considered to be the first documented resident of Hope Town.  The South Carolina widow and her three children arrived in 1785.

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Hope Town on Elbow Cay, Abaco, in the Bahamas with its candy-striped lighthouse – one of the last manual lighthouses in the world.

Queen Elizabeth II stepped onto Bahamian shores while touring Caribbean Commonwealth nations in 1966, 1975, 1977, and 1985.  Her last visit was in March 1994. On these historic occasions, an air of excitement builds on the island as locals crowd the streets to catch a glimpse of Royalty.

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Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip – Rawson Square, Nassau, Bahamas (1966).

Sailing into Nassau Harbour aboard the 412 foot-long Royal Yacht Britannia, Princess Margaret (the Queen’s sister) and her entourage landed in Nassau in 1955.  On this voyage, the 24 year old Royal emissary toured several of the British Colonies in the West Indies, including Jamaica, Trinidad, Grenada, Dominica and the Bahamas.

The Governor of the Bahamas greeted Princess Margaret at Prince George Dock.  She observed a local regatta from the yacht of Sir Stafford Sands, dubbed the Bahamian  “Father of Tourism.”  Incidentally, his wife, Winifred Maude Moore, is my cousin.

Other trip highlights included a public school address at Clifton Pier and a reception at the Government House with over 1600 guests, dignitaries and notable residents. A quick getaway to a private retreat on Rose Island provided a brief respite for the busy princess.

Perhaps the most notable event was a tour of the recently opened Bahamas General Hospital.  During this ceremony, the hospital’s name was officially changed to The Princess Margaret Hospital, and a tree planted in honor of this occasion.

Below are a few of the pictures contained within Dad’s souvenir booklet from this Royal visit (February 26, 1955 – March 2, 1955). Uncertain as to how he obtained this piece of history.  Was he amidst the crowd of eager bystanders?

The cover is stamped with  the succinct and swift motto from Governor Woodes Rogers…Expulsis Piratis/Restituta Commercia – Piracy Expelled, Commerce Restored.

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One thought on “Royalty on Island Shores

  1. Evan, in the 1955 photo of Princess Margaret with the wigged judiciary, the tall man on her left is Governor Ranfurly. His wife presented to me, at Queen’s College, my high school certificate. With many others, I attended the groundbreaking ceremony by Princess Margaret for the new Princess Margaret Hospital of Nassau, Bahamas.

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