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Author Topic: P.A. reception for H.R.H. Elisabeth II – 1954. Ian Gardner  (Read 1366 times)
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« on: August 09, 2008, 06:13:34 PM »

FROM THE OLD FORUM

During her visit to Ceylon in 1954 the Queen was to visit Nuwara Eliya and the Planters’ Association, on behalf of all planters and their families, arranged that she and the Duke attend a reception at the Radella Club.

For the event, the inside of the club was decorated with flower arrangements amongst other things, and the windowed wall backing the verandah overlooking the sports ground was a mass of pink anthuriums.

So that the Queen and Duke would be able to see, and be seen by, as many people as possible crowd control was such that there was a large central circle surrounded by a wide walkway for the royal party and officials etc., and outside that another area for people to stand. As a sort of security barrier the royal party was to be flanked by members of the planting community, some of whom later moved to line the steps leading up to the clubhouse from the grounds. I was one of these as was Gamini Salgado. Apparently, the Duke had been well briefed about people because he, and the Queen, of course, stopped to chat to a number of people. When he came to Gamini he knew a lot about Gamini’s cricketing history. When he came to me he, obviously un-briefed, asked, pointing to the canna plants behind me, whether I could grow tea with leaves that big.

When the royal party reached the club verandah they sat down there for the planned events. At the end of the reception the royal party, following the example of the Queen, stood up and walked slowly towards the door at the side of the verandah leading into the clubhouse and out of sight of the hundreds of people on the grounds below. As they moved away, with the Queen and the Duke waving goodbye, from the hush of the crowd below came a single male voice in song – singing God Save the Queen. It was a memorable moment as this single voice was gradually added to by others until everyone was in full voice. The effect was such that the Queen and the Duke retraced their steps some way in order to respect and reciprocate this remarkable occurrence.
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