Memories of the Queen coming to town

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh visit Duns during their tour of Scotland in July 1956. Elizabeth Hume presents a bouquet to the Queen
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh visit Duns during their tour of Scotland in July 1956. Elizabeth Hume presents a bouquet to the Queen

The Queen has come to Berwickshire and north Northumberland in many guises in her 60 years on the throne. Here, we look back on Her Majesty’s previous royal visits.

At the beginning of her reign she was a ‘fairytale’ Queen, lifting the population at a time of rationing and hardship. Later, she returned to reward deserving public servants and give royal approval to various worthy local projects.

The Queen visits Eyemouth in 1984

The Queen visits Eyemouth in 1984

In the 60 years of her reign, the Queen has visited by train, yacht, car and helicopter.

However and whenever she visited, she has always shown a lively interest in the people and places of the Border country.

July 1956

On her first visit to Berwickshire, three years after her Coronation, the Queen went on a motor tour around the county. She gave orders that the cars should go slowly so that she could be clearly seen by her public.

The Queen visits Coldstream in 1994.

The Queen visits Coldstream in 1994.

In Duns, the Wynsome Mayde presented Her Majesty with a bouquet of flowers. Two Duns ladies had been waiting since 5am to guarantee a view of the Queen, while others climbed onto the roof of a shoe shop for a better look.

Her Majesty also visited Eyemouth and Lauder. In Berwick, she inspected a guard of honour by the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, who lined the road leading out of the railway station.

She returned to London with the gift of a tin of Berwick cockles and a 12 lb salmon for her children, Charles and Anne.

June 1958

The royal yacht ‘Britannia’ anchored off the north Northumberland coast so that the Queen and Prince Phillip could visit Holy Island. Her Majesty presented a signed photograph of herself to retired fisherman Jack Shiel, 67, who carried supplies by boat to the bird sanctuary workers on the Farne Islands. He took the royal couple on a tour of the Islands.

This visit marked the first time Holy Island had a police force, with 100 Northumberland Police and Special Constables set up in a temporary station. The royals visited the Priory ruins and were impressed by the Lindisfarne Gospels. Locals were disappointed at being unable to admire the Royal yacht because of some heavy fog.

July 1984

Greenlaw, Coldstream, Duns and Eyemouth were on the itinerary. As part of a packed schedule, Her Majesty opened Fairbairn Court, Greenlaw, and presented a plaque marking the opening of the new Tourist Information Centre in Coldstream.

After inspecting a new chicken hatchery, the royal party were treated to lunch and a Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme exhibiition at Berwickshire High School. The Duns Reiver and his Lass performed a ride-past.

Tweeddale Press photos of the visit drew crowds when they were displayed in shopfronts around the Borders and in the Berwick office window. This was the most photographed event ever covered by the two papers.

July 1994

The Queen was welcomed in Coldstream by a guard of honour from local brownies, and was particularly interested in the refurbished Coldstream Guards Museum. At Duns, she made an impromptu walkabout - a Royal practice that she instigated - after being entertained by the Pageant of Youth in the Market Square. She also visited the Mercat Cross, which had been removed from the square for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee celebrations in 1897.

Resident Dorothy Davidson said: “She was happy and relaxed, and told us how pleased she was to be in Duns”. At Eyemouth she met lifeboat crews and inspected the tapestry of the 1881 Fishing Disaster. In Chirnside, she was entertained with a theatre show at the Dexters paper mill. She and Prince Phillip took away a gift of silver teaspoons.

July 2001

Her Majesty returned to Berwick in 2001 in her customary maroon Rolls Royce, her first visit to the town for nearly 50 years.

This time, she wanted to visit the town to see how local tourism and agriculture were recovering after the foot and mouth outbreak that year. The recently restored Guildhall bells pealed out as she went for her walkabout along Marygate. She also paused to praise the work of the Berwick Youth Project.

The Mayor at the time, Councillor Rae Huntly, said: “It really raised the profile of the town. For a time people forgot their problems and just enjoyed the spectacle and pageantry.”

July 2009

Her Majesty last visited as part of Royal Week – seven days of her year set aside for engagements in Scotland.

Lord Lieutenant for Berwickshire Alexander Trotter welcomed the Queen, who wore lilac and white. The Eyemouth Herring Queen presented her with a bouquet before Her Majesty attended the smuggling exhibition in Eyemouth Maritime Museum.

Stephen Walters, involved in running the museum, said: “I think it is great that people are recognising that there is something about our heritage to be saved. We are deeply honoured and very grateful for her taking the time to come and see us.”

The Royal couple continued, visiting the Eyemouth RNLI Lifeboat crew at the Fishermen’s Mission, of which the Queen is patron. George Power, port missioner, introduced the Queen to the staff by their nicknames and their real names such as ‘Nine Lives’ which she found highly amusing.