Queen Elizabeth Loved the People of Barbados

She visited five times and held a 'Special Place' in her heart for the people and island.

Queen Elizabeth II meets her Bajan subjects, Silver Jubilee Oct 31, 1977 bgv06-14

This is my favorite image of all I have of Queen Elizabeth. It demonstrates the way she felt about Bajans and how they felt about her. 

Barbados became a republic on 30th Nov 2021, but I feel that does not reflect how Bajans felt about her but rather it was a need for Barbados to become master of their own destiny with local national heroes and leaders.

Queen Elizabeth was a very positive person and treated people from all walks of life with utmost respect. One of the reasons she will be sorely missed.

The world is a better place for her having been here.

750218 queen elizabeth given royal salute barbados bgv2-12

750218 Queen Elizabeth Receives a royal salute, Barbados 1975 bgv2-12

The first motorcade for a visiting dignitary that I witnessed was the visit of Sir Winston Churchill in March of 1960.

My mother was working at Pan American Airlines which had an office in the DaCosta building on Broad Street and we were able to watch the procession from the second floor balcony. There was a huge turnout and throngs lined Broad St to welcome him.

Six years later Queen Elizabeth II made her first visit to Barbados and opened the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Farley Hill National Park and the East Coast Road.

She visited a second time in Feb 1975 - arriving at Seawell Airport (later Grantley Adams International) on a British Airways VC-10.

This was my first chance to photograph her – opening the Barbados Parliament, walkabouts to meet the Bajan people and knighting Barbados' great cricketer Garfield Sobers.

Queen Elizabeth returned for her third visit as the last stop on her Silver Jubilee Tour of 1977 – arriving on Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia and leaving on her first flight in Concorde.

Jackie Faine and I had been doing Barbados human interest stories for a while and could not pass up the chance to cover the visit so we got our press passes, car stickers and other required credentials.

750219 sir garfield sobers thanks her majesty gv3 18 2

750219 Sir Garfield Sobers thanks Her Majesty Feb 1975 gv3-18

HMY Britannia is brought into the Barbados Deepwater Harbour to begin the last visit of her Silver Jubilee Tour, 1977

HMY Britannia brings Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth into the Barbados Deepwater Harbour to begin the last visit of her Silver Jubilee Tour, 1977

Barbados dignitaries prepare to welcome Queen Elizabeth – GG Sir D. Ward, Bajan Equerry in waiting Capt. V.O. Springer, Lady Ward, PM Adams and Mrs Adams, Commissioner of Police Mr. A. Prescot, Acting Port Manager Mr. K.A. Hall and the Aide–de–Camp Oct 31, 1977 bgv5-14

Barbados dignitaries prepare to welcome Queen Elizabeth – GG Sir D. Ward, Bajan Equerry in waiting Capt. V.O. Springer, Lady Ward, PM Adams and Mrs Adams, Commissioner of Police Mr. A. Prescot, Acting Port Manager Mr. K.A. Hall and the Aide–de–Camp Oct 31, 1977 bgv5-14

Her Majesty was welcomed with a fanfare and Royal Salute and then inspected the Honour Guard before leaving the port for her first event – opening the John Beckles Day Nursery.

She then met the Bajan people during a walkabout and open air ride in a Land Rover where she was able to wave her appreciation to the Bajans who had assembled to greet her.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip arrive in Barbados, Silver Jubilee, Oct 31 1977
Queen Elizabeth receives a Royal Salute on arrival in Barbados to begin her final visit of her Silver Jubilee Tour of 1977.

Queen Elizabeth receives a Royal Salute on arrival in Barbados to begin her final visit of her Silver Jubilee Tour of 1977.

Queen Elizabeth inspects the Royal Guard at the Bridgetown Port before leaving for her first event

Queen Elizabeth inspects the Royal Guard at the Bridgetown Port before leaving for her first event

Queen Elizabeth holds a bouquet of Pride of Barbados flowers as she begins her first walkabout of the trip

Queen Elizabeth holds a bouquet of Pride of Barbados flowers as she begins her first walkabout

Queen Elizabeth II meets her Bajan subjects, Silver Jubilee Oct 31, 1977 bgv06-14

Queen Elizabeth II meets her Bajan subjects, Silver Jubilee Oct 31, 1977 bgv06-14

Queen Elizabeth signs the guest book at the John Beckles Day Nursery, Silver Jubilee, Barbados 1977

Queen Elizabeth signs the guest book at the John Beckles Day Nursery, Silver Jubilee, Barbados 1977

Prince Philip looking dapper as he talks with people at the day nursery

Prince Philip looking dapper as he talks with people at the day nursery

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip ride in a Land Rover to meet the people at Queen's Park, Silver Jubilee, Barbados 1977 bgv07-05

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip ride in a Land Rover to meet the people at Queen's Park, Silver Jubilee, Barbados 1977 bgv07-05

Queen Elizabeth shows off her glitter as she meets Bajan dignitaries at the State dinner at Government House, Silver Jubilee, 1977

Queen Elizabeth shows off her glitter as she meets Bajan dignitaries at the State dinner at Government House, Silver Jubilee, 1977

It was then back to the Britannia for the press reception.

At this point one must realize that most of the press corp had been rushing around all day with no time to freshen up - also it had been on and off rain as a tropical depression was in the area.

Jackie decided that she was not dressed to meet the Queen and decided to stay in the car. 

My hands were filthy from my wooden steering wheel but I was fortunate to be able to wash my hands on the wet handrail of the Britannia gangway so I was clean enough to shake hands with Her Majesty and the other dignitaries that met the press corp as they boarded the ship – a good reason for them to wear gloves!

I ended up chatting with one of Her ladies–in–waiting for much of the reception.

Now anyone who has not had the pleasure of following Her Majesty around on one of her tours may be forgiven to think that the end of the press reception would have been a good time to call it the end of the day – no such luck!

The next and most important event of the day was a State dinner at Government House – this ran from 8:15pm until Her Majesty returned to Britannia around 11pm – finally the end of an eventful day.

Queen Elizabeth's procession moves up Broad Street on the way to open the Barbados Parliament, Silver Jubilee, 1977

Queen Elizabeth's procession moves up Broad Street on the way to open the Barbados Parliament, Silver Jubilee, 1977

The Royal Barbados Police Band await the arrival of Queen Elizabeth at the Public Buildings, Bridgetown, Barbados

The Royal Barbados Police Band await the arrival of Queen Elizabeth at the Public Buildings, Bridgetown, Barbados

The next day, Nov 1st began with opening the new Barbados Community College escorted by the Minister of Education, Mr. Louis Tull and viewing an art exhibit guided by Mrs. Joyce Daniel, Chief Tutor of the Fine Arts Division.

Then off to the other side of the island for luncheon at Sam Lord's Castle with PM Tom Adams.

Half hour drive back to Britannia to get ready for the most important event of her trip – the opening of the Barbados Parliament.

We got Jackie into position on the 2nd floor balcony of Cave Shepard's building so she could shoot the Queen's procession up Broad Street.

Queen Elizabeth's procession is greeted by the crowds in Trafalgar Sq as she arrives at the Barbados Public Buildings, Silver Jubilee, 1977

Queen Elizabeth's procession is greeted by the crowds in Trafalgar Sq as she arrives at the Barbados Public Buildings, Silver Jubilee, 1977

Meanwhile I hurried to the Senate chamber via some photos of the people waiting in Trafalgar Square.

I was lucky to get a spot kneeling on a table that had been setup outside the windows of the Senate chamber – from there I was able to shoot the limosine arriving at the Public Buildings and still have a perfect view of Her Majesty opening Parliament. 

She returned to Britannia around 5:30 pm and that was the end of her official duties for the day – whew!

Queen Elizabeth is accompanied to the Senate Chambers by the President of the Barbados Senate, Dr. Arnott Cato. Silver Jubilee, 1977

Queen Elizabeth is accompanied to the Senate Chambers by the President of the Barbados Senate, Dr. Arnott Cato. Silver Jubilee, 1977

Her Majesty and Prince Philip prepare to open the Barbados Parliament, Silver Jubilee, 1977

Her Majesty and Prince Philip prepare to open the Barbados Parliament, Silver Jubilee, 1977

queen elizabeth ii opens the barbados parliament, silver jubilee

Queen Elizabeth opens the Barbados Parliament, Silver Jubilee

Concorde G-BOAE lands at the Grantley Adams International Airport, Oct 31, 1977 bgv11-18

Concorde G-BOAE lands at the Grantley Adams International Airport, Oct 31, 1977 bgv11-18

A contrast in technologies - a cyclist crosses the runway as Concorde is prepared for takeoff bgv12-05

A contrast in technologies - a cyclist crosses the runway as Concorde is prepared for takeoff bgv12-05

Queens Flight Concorde is prepared with a backdrop of the old control tower bgv12-13

Queens Flight Concorde is prepared with a backdrop of the old control tower (compare with police band tower 13-06) bgv12-13

Her Majesty was scheduled to leave on Concorde around 10:30 am. on Nov 2nd. There were many changes in the accessibility on roads around the airport that made getting to the main terminal side of the airport difficult.

I had grown up at the Barbados Light Airplane Club which had it's club house on the South side of the runway and I had often walked across the runway to view planes on the parking apron on the main side of the airport.  I was also lucky that my brother John worked at Aero Services also on the South side and was able to get a drop across the runway with him.

I had got there very early and so was able to talk with the Concorde captains and find out roughly how far up the runway they expected to be airborn.

The Royal Barbados Police Band entertain the crowds awaiting the arrival of Her Majesty bgv13-06

The Royal Barbados Police Band entertain the crowds (compare with Concorde and old tower 12-13) awaiting the arrival of Her Majesty bgv13-06

Capt. Norman Todd, the captain in charge on the Flight Deck of the Queens Flight Concorde bgv13-03

Capt. Norman Todd, the captain in charge on the Flight Deck of the Queens Flight Concorde bgv13-03

Queen Elizabeth's Barbados standard and concorde bgv13-09

Queen Elizabeth's Barbados standard and concorde bgv13-09

Captain of the Queens Flight - Air Commodore Archie Winskill and co pilot Capt. Brain Walpole bgv12-20

Captain of the Queens Flight - Air Commodore Archie Winskill and co pilot Capt. Brian Walpole bgv12-20

Queen Elizabeth arrives at Grantley Adams International to begin her journey home bgv13-11

Queen Elizabeth arrives at Grantley Adams International to begin her journey home bgv13-11

A last wave from Her Majesty before flying the last leg of her Silver Jubilee bgv14-02

A last wave from Her Majesty before flying the last leg of her Silver Jubilee bgv14-02

Queens Flight Concorde ready to taxi. What an incredible aircraft! bgv14-06

Queens Flight Concorde ready to taxi. What an incredible aircraft! bgv14-06

I was extremely lucky to get these photos – right after Her Majesty took the Royal Salute, my camera strap came undone and the camera crashed to the concrete tarmac!

This was with my last roll of film in the camera - fortunately it was a Nikon FTn with a heavy meter housing on top which took the force of the fall and the camera didn't pop open – whew!

Queen Elizabeth receives a Royal Salute before leaving Barbados, Silver Jubilee 1977 bgv13-15

Queen Elizabeth receives a Royal Salute before leaving Barbados, Silver Jubilee 1977 bgv13-15

My last photo before the mad run along the runway to get in position for the take-off bgv14-07

My last photo before the mad run along the runway to get in position for the take-off bgv14-07

Queen's Flight Concorde rotates on it's record setting journey taking Queen Elizabeth back to London, the last leg of her Silver Jubilee, Nov 2, 1977. bgv14

Queen's Flight Concorde rotates on it's record setting journey taking Queen Elizabeth back to London, the last leg of her Silver Jubilee, Nov 2, 1977. bgv14-11

As soon as Concorde started to taxi and passed me I began running as far and as fast as I could up the side of the  runway (in the grass about 100 yds in from the runway).

The airport manager realized what I was doing and he came along with me – just about when we were ready to drop we could hear the roar of those Olympii engines and it was turn - click one, click two (that was this shot) and there were two frames left on the roll – what an adrenaline rush!

Don't let anyone tell you that the Queen's life was easy – I could not imagine having to do all the chores of being the monarch – a lot of stamina was definately required!

Arguably the most historic take-off of a Concorde - Her Majesty's First Flight on Concorde, Barbados 1977 bgv14-12

Arguably the most historic take-off of a Concorde - Her Majesty's First Flight on Concorde, Barbados Nov 2 1977 bgv14-12

  • Hello Craig. Really am enjoying your stories of life in the Barbados. This last story of the Queen’s visit is timely and your coverage and photos are excellent. Keep up the great work.

    • Thanks William – just have to keep up with the scanning! It’s so easy to not do it and procrastination is always biting at the heals! I knew that I had to re-work the Queen photos as many of the edits were not up to snuff and I had never written down anything – yet it took for Her Majesty to die to kick me into getting most of it presentable. I think it was that I didn’t want to hex her by working on it before she moved on.

  • A lovely glimpse into history, Craig. Great shots, and your commentary adds much warmth and humanity to the whole piece. I loved your favourite shot- her smile looks very genuine and radiant and the expressions in the childrens’ faces reflect that. I also really enjoyed your description of running along the tarmac on the grass to capture the lift off. A stunning plane.
    Lastly, I thought as you did how exhausting her day must have been.
    Thanks to you and Jackie for creating and sharing these photographic treasures and your thoughts with us.

    • That was what really hit Jackie and I – it was work following her around and I’m sure there was lots of other background things she had to do just to be there – all the dressing and being perfectly presented, not a hair out of place etc – constant pressure to be perfect! Yet she sure let her humanity come through – she wasn’t just a porcelain doll – she was real.

    • Hi Vincent – so were you ground crew. I was surprised at how small it was but loved the way it looked – the beautiful curved wings. So did you get to work with other Concorde’s that started to come on a regular basis? When did they start coming regularly – we left in 1981 and I don’t remember any Concorde’s coming up to that point?

  • Hi Craig and Jackie, I thoroughly enjoyed your photographs of the Queen and Prince Philips’ visit to your lovely island of Barbados. You have an incredible collection of which you should be proud. Thank you for sharing them with us. -Francine

    • Hi Fran – nice to hear from you – hope you and the family are well. Kevin is doing great. Glad you’re liking the photos and stories. Feels good to be finally getting them out into the world.

  • What a wonderful collection of photos (and captions)….memories of another time, especially now that this era has ended. I remember going to the airport with my Dad and sister to watch the Concorde touch-down at the airport for the first time; such a large crowd that I don’t think we saw much of anything except people. I was 12 years old….a day that is still etched in my memory.

    • Hi Honor, So glad these are rekindling some memories for you – I can imagine how at 12 yr old seeing the Concorde and actually feeling it is unforgettable. And that level of intensity sears it into your memory cells – like when Hurricane Janet was coming and we left the Parravicino house at what’s now called Soup Bowl and headed back to Rockley. So for Janet we were at the house on the beach – we were lucky that the wind was more from the North so that kept the sea at bay

  • Great photos, Craig! That wouldn’t be Felix half in shot on the left of the photo of the Captain of the Queen’s Flight, would it?

    • Hi Jon – how are you guys doing? I don’t think it’s Felix, but in the Ra II arrivals I know part of him is in one of them. I do get a glimpse of Frank Watkins in the pics at the airport.

  • If you wish to have a portrait of yourself (or any image you want associated with you and your email addresses) to follow you around when you comment or log in to various sites – Automattic is the parent entity that oversees / owns WordPress and WooCommerce and also Gravatar which is where you can setup an account and upload the photo you wish to use and the email addresses that you want that image associated with and it’s free. The url is – en dot gravatar dot com/ no spaces.

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