Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Royal Tour of Southern Rhodesia 1953

Extracted, OCR'd and recompiled by Eddy Norris for use on Our Rhodesian Heritage blog only.

By Astley Hawkins

1 Cover, Cover of publication


1-1, Cover Inner

On 30th June, 1953, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret set out from England for their second visit to Southern Rhodesia, a British self-governing territory lying between the Zambesi and Limpopo Rivers in South-Central Africa. In 1947 the Royal Family travelled to Southern Africa in H.M.S. Vanguard, pride of the Royal Navy ; this year, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret flew in the famous Comet jet-airliner, the pride of Britain's Civil Aviation. H.M. the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh (above) were at London Airport to see the Royal tourists depart, as were Lord Swinton, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, and Mr. Oliver Lyttelton, Colonial Secretary. Princess Margaret (below) turned to give a last wave as she followed her mother into the plane. (Below) the Comet in flight.

1-2, Princess Margaret leaving
Princess Margaret waving t onlookers.

1-3, Comet
Comet aircraft

1-4, Map
This map shows the position of Southern Rhodesia in Southern Africa


At noon on 1st July the plane carrying the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret touched down at Salisbury's new airport, eleven miles outside the capital city. It was the first time that a Comet had landed at this airport. First to welcome the Royal visitors as they disembarked was Major-General Sir John Kennedy, Governor of Southern Rhodesia. He is seen (below) at the extreme left of the picture as the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret are being greeted by (from right to left) Mrs. I. M. R. MacLennan, wife of the United Kingdom High Commissioner, Mr. MacLennan, Mrs. J. M. Caldicott, wife of the Minister of Agriculture, and Mr. Caldicott.

Pg1, Royal Tour

Pg3-1, Coat of Arms
Southern Rhodesia's Coat of Arms.

Pg3-2, Cecil Rhodes

Above: Cecil John Rhodes—the Founder of Rhodesia—was born at Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, on 5th July,1853. Southern Rhodesia's rapid development since 1890 would have pleased Rhodes, whose own achievements were often based on speed and personal drive. He died on 26th March, 1902.

SINCE the days of Queen Victoria, the British Throne has represented protection against injustice to millions of Africans. All the thousands of Africans who flocked to see the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret during their tour of Southern Rhodesia in July, 1953, must now feel that this protective spirit is still very much alive in the Royal family today.

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was magnificent at every stage of her long and tiring 1,500-mile journey, which took her right through the self-governing Colony that is this year celebrating the centenary of Cecil Rhodes, its founder.

Nothing was too trivial for Her Majesty to see and to discuss, no one among all the hundreds of thousands who saw her was too insignificant to be noticed. The Africans in their isolated villages and the Africans of the towns are still discussing her friendliness. They responded to this wholeheartedly, and showed by their lack of self-consciousness that she had their full trust.

On the way to Mangwende, the huge African reserve 50 miles from Salisbury, the Royal party stopped to picnic on the banks of the Shawanoya River. There, African women spontaneously left their huts in the nearby village and came into the midst of the Royal party to present live chickens and mealies to the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.

It was not quite like that at the very start of the tour. When the Royal visitors drove from Salisbury airport to Government House, an eleven-mile drive, there were thousands of Europeans in their best holiday clothes, Indian women in colourful saris, and African mothers with babies on their backs lining the route, and scenes of great enthusiasm took place.

However, on the part of the Africans there was still some slight restraint in demonstrating their


How different was the picture only a day or so later. When the Royal party boarded the Royal train of fifteen freshly painted, ivory-white coaches the following evening, there were some signs that the African people were beginning to overcome their first shyness.

The Royal party travelled in three air-conditioned coaches which had been used for the 1947 tour of South Africa. The colour schemes in the bedroom compartments of the Queen Mother and of Princess Margaret were identical—blue and beige with bird's-eye maple panelling.

The adjoining bathrooms had lime-green porcelain and cream walls. English bath crystals and soap tablets were provided— verbena for the Queen Mother and carnation for Princess Margaret. Both bedrooms had built-in radios and dressing tables with long mirrors and cut glass dressing sets.

he lounge dining car was panelled with native South African hardwoods and had a fitted beige carpet and armchairs. Twelve beige leather cane back chairs were placed around the polished hardwood table. Between the lounge and dining sections of the coach was a well-fitted bar tended by Glasgow born Senior Steward Robert Matthews, now serving his 27th year with the Rhodesian Railways.

In the kitchen of the Royal train were special delicacies flown out from Britain for the journey. Supplies of the Queen Mother's favourite China tea and preserved ginger were in the larder; and the chef, Michael Vlotman of South Africa, who had cooked for the Royal family at Victoria Falls in 1947, was storing Scotch salmon and Dover soles in his refrigerator.

The first dinner party aboard the train included both these dishes as well as chicken consommé, asparagus, roast Rhodesian turkey, and apple meringue. The Queen Mother's favourite sherry and white wines were also served. Around the walls were anemones, delphiniums, daffodils, violets, roses, and gladioli to match the different colour schemes.

pg4-1, Royal Train

A corner of the lounge on the Royal Train. All furniture was made from indigenous wood ; the chairs were upholstered in fawn and green brocade, the chesterfield suite in tapestry moquette. The Queen Mother's bedroom (below) was furnished in bird's-eye maple.

Pg4-2, Royal Train

The Queen Mother (below) with the Mayor of Bulawayo, Colonel C. M. Newman, when the Royal tourists arrived at Bulawayo, 3rd July. In 1947 the Royal Family paid a 3-day visit to Bulawayo.

Pg4-3, Arriving in Bulawayo

Pg5-1, Byo Coat of Arms
Bulawayo's Coat of Arms
At Bulawayo the Queen Mother inspected a Guard of Honour drawn from the various units of the Southern Rhodesia Territorial Force (below) and then, with Princess Margaret, drove for nearly five miles through streets gay with flags and cheering crowds to Government House. That afternoon, the Queen Mother and the Princess (below) motored to Queen's Ground where, by pressing a button, the Queen Mother officially opened the gates of the Rhodes Centenary Exhibition. Bulawayo, where the great exhibition was staged, is the second city of Southern Rhodesia. It was founded in 1893 on the site of the black king Lobengula's kraal—" The Place of slaughter. Today it is the headquarters of the Rhodesia Railways and an important commercial and industrial centre astride the main rail and road links with the Union of South Africa and Northern Rhodesia and the Belgian Congo. Bulawayo was given the status of a city on its fiftieth birthday in 1943. Its estimated population is 40,000 Europeans, ? (not legible) Africans and 3,400 other races.

Pg5-2, Guard of Honour Byo./

Pg5-3, Bulawayo


The thoughtfulness of the Queen Mother throughout the whole trip was evidenced when she ordered that some of the delicacies from the Royal kitchen should be shared with the newspapermen and others travelling in the pilot train.

Later on, when she was at Government House, Bulawayo, it came to her ears that some of the passengers in the pilot train had not had sufficient blankets for the cold night atmosphere of the mountains. Extra blankets were immediately supplied and a few days later the Queen Mother inquired about it again and was pleased to hear that the travellers were now more comfortable.

It was on 3rd July that the Royal train reached Bulawayo for the opening of the Rhodes Centenary Exhibition. Large crowds had gathered to watch the Royal procession, and here the spontaneous enthusiasm of the people really showed for the first time. Four little European girls pointed the way. Despite the guards lining the route, they skipped into the road in the path of the Royal car and held up posies of flowers.

The Queen Mother's car slowed down, and it appeared as if her chauffeur intended to swerve round the little group of children. But at a word from the Queen Mother the car stopped and one child, six-year-old Margaret Plathen, whispered to Her Majesty: " From Convent High School, please," as she handed up roses and sweet peas with two boxes of chocolates, which bore pictures of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

"Thank you very much," Queen Elizabeth smiled as she took the gifts, and the police escort led the youthful deputation back to the roadside.

Pg6-1, Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Before leaving Queen's Ground, where the Queen Mother {above) in her opening speech conveyed a message from the Queen, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret were each presented by Colonel Sir Ellis Robins, Chairman of the Exhibition Board, with a diamond brooch {below, right), fashioned like a flame lily. The flower, {below, left), varies from pure yellow to a dark purple red.

Pg6-2, Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

In the British South Africa Company's pavilion at the Exhibition, on 3rd July, the Royal visitors (below) inspected a relief map of the new Central African Federation of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
Pg6-3, Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

But the crowd broke ranks in me station approach and it was only with difficulty that they were forced back again. Their cheers brought smiles to the faces of Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, who waved and bowed to the excited people on either side of them. The Queen Mother was in white, wearing a crepe costume coat, cuffs trimmed with ostrich feathers, and a small off-the-face white hat also trimmed with ostrich feathers. She wore a three-strand pearl necklace and pearl earrings. Princess Margaret was wearing a beige silk poplin dress and a small beige coronet hat with a diamond brooch.

Pg7-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

During their tour of the Exhibition {above) on 4th July, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret visited the National Pavilions where they received many gifts, including these fine drums from Uganda {below). Also in the Uganda Pavilion, the Princess {below) was very interested in " Peggy," a leopard cub. At the Mozambique Pavilion {below) the Royal visitors were met by attendants in picturesque costume. All countries in Africa south of the Sudan took part in the Exhibition as well as the United Kingdom, Madagascar, Reunion, and Zanzibar.
Pg7-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg7-3, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg7-4, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

For six hours during the previous night the Royal train had been halted on a siding at Dabuka, near Gwelo, 100 miles from Bulawayo in order that the Royal visitors might have an undisturbed rest. But all the time the train moved on during the rest of the night, farmers and farm workers, who had travelled in some cases scores of miles to see it, waved as the coaches went by.

I watched from the windows of my own coach and saw them standing beside the line, huddled in blankets against the cold of the night, but springing to life as the white coaches approached.


The Queen Mother brought a message from the Queen when she formally declared open the Rhodes Centenary Exhibition, after the Royal car had passed round the circuit of Queen's Ground, which was packed with 20,000 people including many European and African school children. Africans in all kinds of colourful dress stood in the stands and waved flags or clapped with their hands raised above their heads.

It had been intended that the Queen Mother should open the main gates of the exhibition by pressing a button on the dais in Queen's Ground, but instead she drove a mile and a half to the gates while Africans ran alongside her car as is their traditional manner of greeting a chief.

From the dais the Queen Mother spoke to the great crowd. The message from her daughter can " I have such happy memories of my visit to Southern Rhodesia in 1947 that it gave me real pleasure to become the patron of this exhibition which my mother is to open today. I wish all success to it and continued prosperity to the three territories."

Pg8-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret saw much to interest them in the Mozambique Pavilion {above), and later (below) watched the grading of tobacco—now Southern Rhodesia's most important single export—in the Tobacco Pavilion. By far the greatest buyer of Rhodesian tobacco is Great Britain. During her tour, the Queen Mother met, " The grand old man of Northern Rhodesia," Mr. J. E. " Chirupula " Stephenson {below), who went to the territory in 1901 and was largely responsible for opening the area which is now the Copperbelt.

Pg8-2, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg8-3, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

PG9-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

At the African Model Village, which was one of the most interesting features of the Rhodes Centenary Exhibition, the Queen Mother (above) was presented with a beautifully carved piece of ivory. Her Majesty and the Princess Margaret also watched native blacksmiths at work (below), using the techniques which have been handed down the centuries. In another part of the village they inspected a wide variety of basket work, and wood and horn carving. African handicrafts from many parts of the continent were represented in the Model Village which drew large crowds of spectators.

Pg9-2, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

On the platform with the Queen Mother were the Governors of Southern and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and two nieces of Cecil Rhodes, Miss Georgia Rhodes and Miss Violet Rhodes, who had come from Britain for the ceremony.
The Queen Mother said that the inspiration which had driven Rhodes to the north had been no mere desire for territorial expansion as such but in its essence a spiritual motive.
"He has been called a great dreamer," she said, "and so he was. But he differed from many dreamers in that, while his eyes might be fixed on a star, his feet were always firmly planted on the ground.
"Southern Rhodesians are versed in the art of self-government in which the Northern Rhodesians and people of Nyasaland are now to have their share," the Queen Mother said. "Here is a prosperous nation with an ever brightening promise of more prosperity before it, one nation, let us always remember, though drawn from divers sources, European and African."
The Royal visitors were presented with diamond and platinum brooches, representing Rhodesia's flame lily, these being replicas of that given by Southern Rhodesian school children to the Queen on her 21st birthday in 1947.
I have rarely heard a more enthusiastic and spontaneous cheer than that which went up when the Queen Mother immediately pinned her brooch to her dress.
Northern Rhodesia's gift to the Queen Mother was a shallow, circular dish of highly polished copper on a low base. Princess Margaret received a set of nine bowls, each highly polished inside but of unburnished copper outside.
As mother and daughter went slowly round the exhibition there were renewed expressions of loyalty from the crowds. The people pressed in on the Royal party, and the police had to link hands to keep a passage clear for them to walk. African onlookers danced with delight as the Queen Mother repeatedly paused to smile at them. At the end of the visit to the exhibition buildings the Royal visitors rode back to their cars in one of the exhibition's tractor buses.
On 4th July the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret toured the exhibition a second time, and stopped to inspect many of the pavilions of the 18 nations taking part.

pG10-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953
Above: In the African Model Village, these native musicians entertained the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret by playing an age old tune on their calabash instruments.
Africans in tribal dress danced and chanted and clapped in ceremonial greeting to the Queen Mother and the Princess as they walked through a native village which was part of the exhibition. Some of the women dancers threw themselves so close to the Royal party that the Queen Mother and the Princess were almost forced to step back. There was no mistaking the pleasure that this expression of affection gave to the visitors, however, and their smiles in turn delighted the dancers.

Pg11-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

From music to dancing ! Swazi dancers in the African Model Village (above) put on a special performance for the Royal guests. Later the same day the Queen Mother and her daughter went to a Mayoral Garden Party in Bulawayo Park, where {below), they met widows of Rhodesia's pioneers. The next morning they attended Divine Service at St. John's Church (below), where they were welcomed by the Bishop of Matabeleland and the Archdeacon, the Venerable E. Aldington Hunt.

Pg11-2, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg11-3, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Straight from the exhibition the Royal visitors went to Bulawayo's Central Park, where there was an Open-House garden party for all the citizens. More than 10,000 of them took this chance of seeing the Queen Mother and the Princess.
At night the visitors were present at a gala performance by the Halle Orchestra, under Sir John Barbirolli, at the 3,000-scat theatre in the exhibition grounds. The programme included an Elizabethan suite arranged by Barbirolli and a special Rhodesian March composed by Eric Coates.

Although the people of Bulawayo had hoped that the Royal visitors might make the Sunday pilgrimage to the tomb of Cecil Rhodes outside the city, they had been informed that it was not part of the programme. There was considerable surprise therefore when the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret climbed half a mile up into the wild, rocky Matopo Hills to attend a centenary service at the grave. Five thousand pilgrims applauded them as they took their seats near the flat granite slab which covers the grave of the pioneer who gave his name to Rhodesia.
Throughout the service a keen wind whipped across the rocky summit, buffeting the Royal party. It was no doubt this wind which brought on the cold that caused Princess Margaret to curtail her part of the tour.
Wailing pipes playing laments accompanied the pilgrimage to the Rhodes grave, and the stone slab was gradually hidden beneath wonderful wreaths of flowers, including those from the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, many Rhodes scholars, and tributes from America.
Earlier the Royal visitors had attended divine service at St. John's Church in Bulawayo, and immediately afterwards the Queen Mother and the Princess drove off to visit the Barham Green Village for Coloured People and an old people's home where some of the pioneers of Rhodesia now live.

Pg12-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953
During a drive in Bulawayo on 5th July, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret stopped to visit Queen Mary House, St. Gabriel's Home (above), where the Principal introduced some African members of the staff. At St. Gabriel's too, the Queen Mother (below) chatted to the children—one little boy picked a flower from her posy!
Pg12-2, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

The Royal tourists also stopped at Barham Green Village (below), a recently developed Housing Estate for coloured people.

Pg12-3, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg13-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret were radiant figures at the Gala Performance of the Halle Orchestra in Bulawayo on 4th July. The Theatre Royal, where the performance was held, scats more than 3,000 people, and was specially built for the Rhodes Centenary Exhibition.

Pg14-1, The Royal Tour of Southern Rhodesia in  1953

Although the afternoon of Sunday, 5th July, had been left free of official engagements for the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, Her Majesty and her daughter joined a pilgrimage to the grave of Cecil John Rhodes (above), repeating a visit made in 1947. Cecil Rhodes was buried in the living rock of Malindidzimu in the Matopos hills, 25 miles south of Bulawayo.

Pg14-2, The Royal Tour of Southern Rhodesia in  1953

One of the last engagements for Queen Mother and Princess in Bulawayo was a visit to Luveve African village, where they were greeted by a brass band (above) and by singing and dancing African women (below) who had journeyed to Southern Rhodesia from the Belgian Congo. Luveve provides accommodation for about 500 families; a notable feature is that it has not been found necessary to establish a police force of any kind in the settlement.

Pg14-3, The Royal Tour of Southern Rhodesia in  1953

Pg15-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

At Luveve, where the Southern Rhodesian Government has provided two schools, a clinic and a post office, the Queen Mother (above) talked with European welfare workers. Luveve was the native name of a former Chief Native Commissioner, Lt.-Colonel C. L. Carbutt, and means " butterfly."

Pg15-2A, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg15-2, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

On 7th July, the Queen Mother and the Princess began a tour of the Midlands towns, starting at Gwelo, where unfortunately no photographs were taken of the Royal Visit.
There the Queen Mother opened the Memorial Gates at Chaplin School, met airmen from the Royal Air Force station at Thornhill, and leading Africans from Gwelo and the
surrounding districts. At a morning tea party the Royal visitors met some of the few remaining pioneers and pioneers' widows and inspected detachments of Scouts, Guides, St. John Ambulance Brigade, and Red Cross. The geographical centre of Southern Rhodesia, Gwelo is developing rapidly industrially.

Pg15-3A, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg15-3, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

After Gwelo, the next halt in the tour of the Midlands towns was at Que Que (above), a mining and industrial centre, where again, unfortunately, no photographs were taken of the Royal Visit. Here Her Majesty and Her Royal Highness met the Mayor and Mayoress and leading Europeans and Africans.

Pg15-4, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Gatooma and Hartley were the last stops in the tour of the Midlands towns. At Gatooma, a mining and industrial town, Princess Margaret above) received a bouquet from a little girl. At Hartley, one of the earliest Euro- pean settlements in the country, the Queen Mother (above) chatted to one of the town's oldest inhabitants.

Pg16-1A, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953


Umtali, the " Eastern Gateway" to Southern Rhodesia, was reachcd on the 8th July, and there, on the morning of her arrival, the Queen Mother performed one of the most interesting ceremonies of the tour—the unveiling of the statue to Kingsley Fairbridge at Christmas Pass. Kingsley Fairbridge, who lived in Southern Rhodesia until he went to Oxford in 1908, was the originator of the Fairbridge Farm Schools in Australia, one of the most successful child migration schemes. The Fairbridge Memorial College near Bulawayo, though run on somewhat different lines, was inspired by his ideals. Fairbridge spent the last ten years of his short life— he died in 1924—in charge of the first of the Australian schools at Pinjarra

Pg16-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg16-2, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

The unveiling ceremony took place in a rugged siting near the main road leading to Umtali. The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, accompanied by Mr. B. D. Goldberg, Chairman of the Memorial Committee, and Mrs. Fairbridge, the widow of Kingsley Fairbridge, who had travelled from Australia specially for the occasion, walked a short distance {above) to the little clearing where the statue (above, left) stands. The Minister in attendance was Mr. E. C. F. Whitehead, Minister of Finance and Posts and Telegraphs. At the memorial site the Royal visitors met many of Umtali's townsfolk and farmers and miners (below), and at Christmas Pass (below) spoke to many boys and girls from schools in the town and surrounding areas.

Pg16-3, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg16-4, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953


The visit to Bulawayo ended on 6th July with a pageant in the Exhibition Theatre depicting scenes from the life of Cecil Rhodes. There were 3,000 inside the theatre, including many schoolchildren, and many more thousands outside. Before going to the theatre, the Royal visitors drove to Luveve, a Government experimental village for Africans. Here excited crowds cheered them as they visited the bungalow home of an African family.
An African timbale band played for the Royal visitors and thousands watched as the players hammered at their long xylophones made from hollowed gourds covered with strips of wood. This was followed by an African mixed choir singing native songs. The programme included a song dedicated to the 1947 tour, with the words : " May God bless all descendants of Queen Victoria."
At one stop Her Majesty met Sister Constantia, an 89-year-old member of the Dominican Order, who is a veteran of the siege of Mafeking and who had met Cecil Rhodes.
The Queen Mother had caused the roof of the car to be opened all along the route so that people could see her plainly, and this was greeted with tremendous shouts of " Abiz "— the favourite greeting of the Africans.
Throughout the tour, Her Majesty insisted that the car should be open as much as possible, and she won applause everywhere because she would always reach up and switch on the car light when she noticed a group of people waiting beside the road to greet her. " Nothing is ever too much trouble for the Queen Mother," they said repeatedly.
At night the Royal visitors left by train for Gwelo, and there was excitement among the party when it was announced that a lion was roaming the line ahead. But although there were signs of an unusually large amount of big game roaming the area, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret were disappointed. Not one wild animal was seen throughout the whole trip.
Gwelo is the centre for the country's industrial midlands. Here the Queen Mother, again dressed all in white crepe, met men of the Thornhill station of the Royal Air Force, the last remaining camp in this area and a reminder of Gwclo's part in the Empire Air Training Scheme of the last war.
Pg18-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

African women, chanting and dancing, encircled the Royal car as the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret (above) drove into Sakubva township, Umtali, on 8th July. In the Moffatt Hall, Sakubva (below), the Queen Mother met members of the African Women's Club and their children. Her Majesty also visited the bungalow of an African family and in the small kitchen showed great interest in a dressing table decorated with newspaper cut into patterns.

Pg18-2, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg19-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

During the afternoon of the 8th July, the Queen Mother and the Princess attended the Mayor's Garden Party at Hillside Sports Club, Umtali. Here, the Queen Mother (above), received from little Delyse Levy and Alan McGregor a " walkie-talkie " doll for Princess Anne. The doll's clothes were made by parents of children attending the Fairbridge Centre at Umtali. At this stage of the tour—halfway in both time and distance—the Royal tourists had covered 750 miles and had travelled from Salisbury to Bulawayo, near the western borders of Matabeleland, and then across the country to the eastern borders of Manicaland.

Pg19-2, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Thursday 9th July was scheduled as a day of rest for the Queen Mother and the Princess at the picturesque Leopard Rock Hotel (above), in the Vumba Mountains. For the Princess it became an enforced rest. Her Royal Highness had contracted a severe cold and had to stay in bed. It was decided that she should fly back to Salisbury instead of undertaking the 200-mile car journey to Fort Victoria scheduled for the following day.

The Queen Mother (below) is seen with the Governor and Lady Kennedy at Leopard Rock Hotel.

Pg19-3, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg19-4, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Travelling alone to Fort Victoria on 10th July, the Queen Mother stopped at the Nyanyadzi Irrigation Project, and was welcomed (above) by African chiefs from Manicaland, in their red and purple robes of office. With the Queen Mother is Mr. L. Powys-Joncs, Secretary for Native Affairs. At the Irrigation Project about 300 African plot holders produce an astonishing yield of a variety of crops.

Pg20-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Children also seem to flourish at Nyanyadzi! During her tour of the irrigation project the Queen Mother {above) saw and met many Africans of all ages, and was specially interested in African cattle (below). Nyanyadzi, started in 1930, comprises 745 acres under irrigation. The alluvial soil is of great depth, in sections approaching 70 feet. Maize is grown in summer, followed by sunnhemp and wheat in the winter.

Pg20-2, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg21-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia

At the single-span, 1,080-feet-long Birchcnough Bridge, which carries the road from Umtali across the Sabi River to Fort Victoria, children were again out in force to greet the Queen Mother as she halted on her journey to Fort Victoria. Many of the children had travelled hundreds of miles from the surrounding agricultural districts. It was at Birchenough Bridge (above) that Her Majesty saw her first baobab tree (below), one of the most fascinating of Rhodesian trees. Its grotesque ugliness gives it a charm of its

Pg21-2, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia

Pg21-3, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia

The Queen Mother arrived at Fort Victoria in the evening of 10th July and the following day explored the strange ruins of Great Zimbabwe. Accompanied by the Curator, Mr. S. D. Sandes, the Queen Mother walked through the Parallel Passages and labyrinth of fallen stones (above), and saw the mighty walls (below), which are estimated to contain between 80,000 and 100,000 tons of granite. Zimbabwe, 17 miles south-east of Fort Victoria, was discovered in 1868 by a wandering hunter, Adam Renders.

Pg21-4, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia
Later she saw 10,000 Africans under the leadership of a dozen chiefs in red, white and
blue robes. One of them, a wizened man of 80, was wearing a 1947 Royal tour medal on his chest. The Queen Mother noticed that he was wearing it back to front, and turned it over for him with a smile. In the afternoon there were visits to three other industrial towns—Que-Que, Gatooma and Hartley.
The Royal visitors reached Umtali on 8th July for the unveiling of the life-size bronze statue which is the memorial to Kingsley Fairbridge, the South African who went to live in Rhodesia and who founded the Fairbridge Farm Schools for British boys.
" It was a tremendous vision of encouraging immigration from Great Britain to the Dominions and colonies of children who might profit from a new life and boundless opportunities which might there be offered them," the Queen Mother said at the unveiling.
From the Fairbridge memorial the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret visited Sakubva, an African township considered the finest in Rhodesia, and attended a civic garden party. And from there they drove 22 miles into the Vumba Mountains for a short period of rest at the luxurious Leopard Rock Hotel.
But the cold weather of the past few days had at last taken its toll of Princess Margaret. On the first day at the Leopard Rock - so named because in the past a family of leopards could often be seen sunning themselves on a rock close to where the hotel is now built - she stayed in bed with a head cold and a high temperature. On the following day it was announced that the Princess had temporarily withdrawn from the tour to return to Salisbury by air, while her mother would continue the journey on her own.

There were scenes of tumultuous enthusiasm for the Queen Mother at ever)' stop along the route of her 215-milc drive to Fort Victoria, the oldest European settlement in Southern Rhodesia. People had driven many miles to see her, and at one point the convoy of cars was slowed almost to a standstill while Africans, beating drums and carrying palm fronds, sane and danced.

Pg22-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

On 9th September, 1891—barely a year after the Pioneer Column had entered the wild and savage country which l3y north of the Limpopo - the Dutch Reformed Church founded Morgenster Mission, which the Queen Mother visited on 10th July. Her Majesty chatted with African nurses of the Mission (above), and inspected the Mission's own printing works (below), where Africans produce church literature. In 1950 the translation of the Bible into Shona was completed.

Pg22-2, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953
At Melsetter crossroads, which lie in a bowl in the hills, the Queen Mother met 94 year-old Cornelius Marais, one of the original settlers in the Eastern Districts, and Dr. W. G. Rose, the first doctor there, who 50 years ago had often to ride 70 miles across country to attend a patient.
The Africans who had gathered to welcome the Queen Mother sang their National Anthem for her as she went to greet them. Then the convoy of cars set off again to Birchenough Bridge, the third largest single-span bridge in the world, and soon the Queen Mother saw her first giant baobab trees.
At the Nyanyadzi Irrigation Scheme for Africans the Royal car stopped under a mammoth 70 feet high much a tree, and African chiefs in scarlet and purple robes came forward to greet the Queen Mother. She was presented with a carved wooden plaque and an exquisite carving of a sleeping doe.
While she lunched the Queen Mother looked out over the 745-acre irrigation area where Africans cultivate maize, winter wheat, lucerne, bananas, paw paws and other vegetables on four-acre plots and enjoy an average income of £200 a year—a high average for any part of Central Africa.
The Queen Mother rejoined the Royal train at Fort Victoria in the evening, and was immediately given news of Princess Margaret, who had flown by a Dakota of the Southern Rhodesia Air Force to Salisbury and had gone straight to bed there. The Princess had looked pale and drawn as she left the plane, and there was a fur wrap round her shoulders as she walked to the car that took her to Government House from the airport.
On 11th July, the Queen Mother visited the fabulous Zimbabwe Ruins, 17 miles from Fort Victoria. This ancient temple, it is said,was the source of King Solomon's gold, and

certainly there is indisputable evidence that gold was smelted there many centuries ago. The Queen Mother also visited the oldest and largest Dutch Reformed Church mission in Central Africa. It was founded in 1891 in a country of hostile natives and is today a flourishing settlement famous for having translated the Bible into the Shona language.

Pg23-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Weird granite outcrops are found throughout Southern Rhodesia, but the " Finger Rocks " at Morgenster Mission (above) are among the strangest. The Queen Mother met the 91-year-old Dr. Andrew Louw, who founded the Mission, and was shown around by the Superintendent, the Rev. Mr. van der Merwe. The large pillar bears a plaque commemorating the Mission's golden jubilee in 1941. The early days of the Mission were difficult, but generous gifts were given by Cecil Rhodes and by the British South Africa Company.

Pg24-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

On 12th July, Princess Margaret, who was now recovering from her cold, went to Salisbury Station to meet the Queen Mother, who had journeyed overnight from Fort Victoria. While awaiting the Royal Train, the Princess (above), met Salisbury citizens, including Mrs. F. J. Lovatt, wife of the town Clerk. In attendance was Mrs. W. A. E. Winterton, wife of the Minister for Trade and Industrial Development. As from 12th July, the Princess accompanied her mother to all the remaining engagements in the official programme. Salisbury is built round the site where the Pioneer Column ended its march into Mashonaland in September, 1890.

Pg24-2, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg24-3, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

At Salisbury station on 12th July, the Queen Mother and the Princess Margaret said farewell to the staffs of the Royal and Pilot Trains. Accompanied by Mr. L. W. Lane, Chief Superintendent for Transportation, the Queen Mother chatted to the African staff (above), and also to the Royal Train chefs (above). Later the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret visited the Town House, Salisbury, where the Princess (below) is seen greeting one of the leading members of the African community. The Queen Mother is seen with Councillor S. W. Sandford, the Mayor.
Pg24-4, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg25-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg25-2, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

On Monday morning 12th July, the Queen Mother and the Princess attended Divine Service at the Cathedral of St. Mary and All Saints (above), which is the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Mashonaland. The Cathedral stands on the site where the Pioneer Column outspanned in 1890. The first church was a thatched hut, the second a wood-and-iron building. The architect, Sir Herbert Baker, drew his inspiration for the design of the present building, which was started in 1913, from Ravenna, in Northern Italy, where the influences of both Basilican and Byzantine styles have been felt. After attending the Cathedral service, the Queen Mother and the Princess (below) drove, with a mounted escort of the British South Africa Police, to Harari Township.
Pg25-3, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953


At the mission blind children sang for the Royal visitor, then she visited a park laid out by African girl guides to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

By the following morning Princess Margaret had recovered from her cold sufficiently to take Holy Communion at Salisbury Cathedral and to be at Salisbury station to meet the Royal train when it pulled in. She greeted her mother inside the coach and remained in the train for 20 minutes before coming back to the platform with the Queen Mother to meet more than 50 members of the Royal train staff and police. Among the staff were a number of African police whose job had been to patrol parts of the track when the train was stationary at some overnight stops.

While in the train Princess Margaret had changed from a brown ensemble to one of all white for the church service which she attended with her mother when they left the train. The service was again held in Salisbury Cathedral, which had been built on the site of the thatched hut that was the city's first church 60 years ago.

After the service the Royal car drove for two miles through Salisbury's African township of Harari. Fifteen thousand Africans lined the streets and cheered.

At the uncompleted buildings of the new hospital for Africans and Asiatics the Princess unveiled a plate, naming the place the Princess Margaret Hospital for Asians and Coloured People of Mixed Races.

In the afternoon the Queen Mother inspected 400 men of the Rhodesian African Rifles, and presented the regiment with its colours in sunshine so strong that several soldiers collapsed during the ceremony. She was dressed in a blue and lilac printed chiffon dress with a wide-brimmed pale blue hat swathed in navy blue tulle.

The Queen Mother compared the significance of the regimental colours with that of the shields carried into battle by the African forefathers of the soldiers on parade. " In the short history of the Rhodesian African Rifles," she said, " you have proved that you can hold your own in battle. By your service since the war, you have shown that you can carry out your duties towards the Queen, the colony, and its people with smartness and efficiency. By the way in which so many of you volunteered to serve in the Middle East when help was needed, you have shown that you are ready to take your share in the welfare of the Commonwealth."

Pg26-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

At Harari on 12th July, Princess Margaret (above), was presented with a bouquet as she arrived at the Princess Margaret Hospital for Asians and Coloured People of Mixed Races. The Princess unveiled a name plate at the hospital. During the afternoon of the same day, the Queen Mother (below) presented Colours to the Rhodesian African Rifles at their Parade Ground. The Rhodesian African Rifles, formed in 1940, fought in the Arakan in 1943. Due for demobilisation after the war, the Regiment was reformed in connection with the Rhodesian Air Training Group ; in 1951 a detachment of 400 volunteers went to the Canal Zone for labour and guard duties.

Pg26-2, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953
Pg27-1A, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg27-2, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

On 13th July, the Queen Mother (above) laid the foundation stone of the Rhodesian University. Expressing her pleasure that the ceremony marked a long period of preparatory work, Her Majesty said : " I hope that the standards and traditions established in this university will be as sound and strong and enduring as the Rhodesian granite of this foundation stone." In the afternoon of the same day, Her Majesty and the Princess attended the British South Africa Police Sports. The Queen Mother (above, right) was presented with a brooch in the form of the Corps' badge and Princess Margaret (below) received a specially bound copy of " Blue and Old Gold," a record of the B.S.A. Police.

Pg27-4, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Arriving at Mrewa, to attend the Mangwende Agricultural Show on 14th July, the Royal visitors (below) were greeted by this " praise-dancer."

Pg27-3, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Salisbury was en fete for the last days of the tour. Europeans and colourfully clad Africans thronged the streets, which are shady with green trees. First Street, one of the main roads, with its fine modern buildings and their sun verandahs was crowded all the daylight hours and made a gay sight with flags to greet the Royal visitors.
One of the highlights of the tour came on 13th July when the Queen Mother laid the foundation stone of Rhodesia University, near Salisbury. She said that the three governments in the forthcoming Central African Federation were giving careful consideration to the provision of higher education for the Africans. The university, the first institution of its kind in Central Africa, will be open to all races.
" No one can doubt that the territories which are about to form themselves into this great federation have now reached a stage of development which justifies their desire for a university of their own," the Queen Mother said.
" This stone is a symbol of the creation of a university which will provide higher education for all peoples in these territories.
" The establishment of a university in which students of all races will share the same teaching and undertake the same courses on a" basis of academic equality will be a fitting culmination of all the splendid preparatory work done by so many people." I hope that the standards and traditions established in this university will be as sound and strong and enduring as the Rhodesian granite of this foundation stone."

Pg28-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Women trilled the " pururudza " ululation, and the " kawumbere " - the traditional clapping welcome—echoed among Mrewa's granite hills when 16,000 Africans welcomed the Royal visitors to the Mangwende Reserve at Mrewa. Her Majesty (above), received a fine leopard skin from Chief Mangwende and, after the presentations, Princess Margaret (below), accompanied by Mrs. Mangwende, laid the foundation stone of the African Women's Club. In the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret (below) were shown some of the work of the Women's Club by Chief Mangwende and his wife.

Pg28-2, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg28-3, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg29-1 A, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

This delightful picture of the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret with the Governor, Sir John Kennedy, was taken on 13th July at Government House, Salisbury, where nearly 1,000 young people from all over Southern Rhodesia attended a ball for Princess Margaret.

In the afternoon the Royal visitors watched Scottish dancing to the music of pipes at a sports meeting held by the British South Africa Police. Africans packed in the stands about the magnificent, tree-banked sports fieldgave the Royal party a wonderful reception as they drove round. Princess Margaret seemed completely recovered from her cold, but she was protected by rugs against the chilly wind. She wore a shrimp-pink ensemble, while the Queen Mother was in lilac watered taffeta.
The Princess came fully into her own in the evening when the young peoples' ball was held at Government House. Lively and radiant in a lace-trimmed gown, wearing a diamond tiara, she danced until after i a.m. and led her partners expertly through the Scottish reels.
The dancing was started by the Queen Mother, who came on the floor with the Governor, Sir John Kennedy, while Princess Margaret's partner was the Governor's 18-year- old son, Hugh.
Princess Margaret accompanied the Queen Mother on the following morning to a native agricultural show at Mrewa, in the mountains of the Mangwende Reserve, 50 miles from Salisbury. On the way the crowds lined the road at all the stopping places. An 8o-year-old chief, in his rich, blood-red robes, jumped into the path of the Royal car to cavort on spindly legs in token of loyalty. The tribe's praisemaker, dressed in flowing white robes, meanwhile leaped madly up and down, brandishing a spear and a hatchet.

Pg30-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1952

Watching the Salisbury tobacco auction - the world's largest—on 15th July, the Royal visitors (above) were astonished at the speed with which the bales were sold—one every six or seven seconds - and by the auctioneer's " sing-song " chant as he recorded the bidding.
P31-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg31-2, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

On 16th July, the Royal Tour of Southern Rhodesia ended. In sixteen memorable days the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret had (among other engagements) inspected 14 Guards of Honour or detachments of ex-Servicemen, Guides and Scouts, visited 12 African settlements, made seven replies to addresses of welcome, delivered three speeches, and attended two Government House receptions. Then came the farewells. The Queen Mother {above) shakes hands with Mr. P. B. Fletcher, Minister for Native Affairs. Princess Margaret (left), watched by Sir Robert Tredgold, the Chief Justice (centre) and Mr. Fletcher, says good-bye to the Prime Minister, Sir Godfrey Huggins. Then the Royal visitors (below) boarded the Comet for the flight to England.

Pg31-3, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

In the evening more than 1,200 people attended a Government House reception. The Queen Mother wore a white-and-gold lace crinoline with the sash of the order of the Garter, and a magnificent tiara. Princess Margaret was in oyster slipper satin, her gown embroidered with crystals. She wore the sash of the Royal Victorian Order.
The day before the Royal visitors returned to England they went to the tobacco auction and laughed heartily at the extraordinary mumbo-jumbo of the auctioneer's song. So intrigued by it was the Queen Mother that she asked English born Frank Roscoe to record his patter for her, so that the record could be played on the Clarence House radiogram when she was at home again.
That night at Government House Princess Margaret entertained dinner guests with songs which charmed everyone. Here she showed how talented she is, both as pianist and as singer.
Throughout the tour the Queen Mother kept a note of all the beautiful flowers of the country, and she took away samples of flowers and vines from Government House to be planted in her gardens in Britain.
On this last day of the Royal visit to Rhodesia, at a garden party given by the Mayor of
Salisbury in the city park, Her Majesty spent over an hour talking to people who had helped or officiated at functions during the tour. She presented cuff-links to the men, and brooches to the women, as souvenirs.
Afterwards, as the great Comet jet airliner carried the Royal party home, many who had heard the Queen Mother's speech of farewell to the country must have been remembering her words of praise and encouragement when, referring to the strides made by the Colony since her last visit, she had said " This progress is a tribute to the drive and enterprise of your citizens and is an earnest of their faith in the future of this part of Africa.

Pg32-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953
There remained the homecoming. At London Airport on the morning of 17th July, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret stepped from the Comet jet-airliner (above), to be greeted by Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh (below). The 1953 Royal Tour of Southern Rhodesia had ended.

Pg32-2, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg33-1, The Royal Tour of Rhodesia 1953

Pg34-1, tHE rOYAL tOUR OF rHODESIA 1953

End of Publication

Hard copy of the original publication was made available to ORAFs by Canon Bill Girard. Thank you Bill.

Thanks also to Mrs. Lynda Rushby who brought the hard copy to Pretoria and thereafter for taking it back to Canon Bill Girard from England.

Comments are always welcome, please send them to Eddy Norris at

Suggested further reading on the Kingsley Fairbridge Memorial  can be viewed at the link below.


At 16 April 2012 at 09:23 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Christopher Hudson (RhAF) Writes:-

The photograph of the Queen Mum & Margaret brings back memories. Margaret was mooning over Townsend at the time & generally in a bad mood. One evening whilst they were staying in Salisbury. No. 3 SSU happened to have a night flying exercise, in Harvards. The route took over us Government House. All Hell broke loose. We were disturbing the Princess and had to clear the area immediately. Funny the things that stick in your mind for years ..........

At 16 April 2012 at 09:24 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Canon Bill Girard Writes:-

wonder whether anyone else has memories of that visit. I was working at Sakubva at the time and I clearly recall the arrival of the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret at the Moffat Hall. The break-up of Princess Margret's relationship with Group Captain Townsend had been announced before she left the UK so she was hardly in a 'settled frame of mind.' Her 'enforced rest' at Leopard Rock Hotel was allegedly because of a heavy cold but it was said she was being 'confined to barracks' for being fractious !

I wonder if anyone else has memories of that visit. And are Delyse Levy and Alan McGregor (the children who presented the doll for Princess Anne, still in the land of the living. The same might be said of the doll !

At 20 May 2012 at 18:44 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Pat Annandale Writes:-

I also remember the 1953 Royal Visit and how hard it was for Princess Margaret to show any interest in the proceedings!

Still have a reminder of the occasion --- the lovely picture painted for her room at Leopard Rock by Ebie Coetzee who was with us on the staff at UHS at the time and a special friend of my husband-to-be who bought it from him after their departure. I daresay we had far more pleasure from it than she did


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