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The Queen's Visits to Jersey: 1957

The Queen's Visits to Jersey: 1957

Wednesday 14 September 2022

The Queen's Visits to Jersey: 1957

Wednesday 14 September 2022

Eight years after her visit to the island as Princess Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth II returned to Jersey, for a visit closely mirroring her first.

Queen Elizabeth II was 96 years old when she died, having come to the throne in 1952, by far the oldest and longest serving Royal Great Britain has ever known.

She came to Jersey on six occasions, more than any other monarch. In a series of articles, Express is looking back on each of those visits. After her 1949 visit, which you can read about here, we turn to her first visit as Queen Elizabeth II in 1957... 

 ~ 1957 ~

There was a break of eight years, before the now Queen Elizabeth II, visited Jersey again. Although the Jersey she visited was more vibrant that the post-war one she had come to in 1949, the island was still trying to find its feet.

Locally, 1957 saw a series of foot and mouth outbreaks, petrol rationing had just ended, and the States agreed to spend £210,000 on a hospital extension.

The 1957 engagement was also the first time in just under a century that a reigning queen had come to the island. As with the 1949 visit the couple travelled by sea, but this time aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia, a 421-foot ship, with a crew of 21 officers and 250 royal yachtsmen, which had been commissioned three years earlier.

Whilst the couple could have felt there was an element of ‘groundhog day’, the visit very closely mirroring that of 1949, it did at least start differently.


A genuine Jersey feast


Pictured: Like in 1949, the Royal couple travelled by sea. (Jersey Archive)

With States’ permission, early on the morning of the visit, Thursday 23 July, 74-year-old Frank Tocque, together with a number of cadets from the Royal Channel Islands and St. Helier Yacht Clubs, motored out to Britannia in a 120-year-old fishing boat and presented the officer commanding the Royal Yacht with milk, cream, lobsters, eggs, butter, honey and flowers to pass on to the Queen. Quite what she thought of the gifts was never revealed.

Later, in time honoured fashion, the couple stepped ashore at the Albert Pier, and were greeted by the Bailiff, Sir Alexander Coutanche, and Lieutenant Governor, Admiral Sir Gresham Nicholson. The Queen was then given a magnificent bouquet by nine-year-old Melody Brown (Mrs Gundar in 2001). Her dad was a carpenter at the harbour and had built the dais the queen was later to stand on.

A Land Rover took the couple along the pier, where they transferred to the Royal Daimler which travelled slowly along the Esplanade, past West Park Pavilion, the People’s Park, and the Parade to the Town Hall where they were introduced to the Constable.


Scaling King George II’s statue to get a good view


Pictured: In a short ceremony in the States the Bailiff welcomed the Queen to the island.  (Jersey Archive)

These were the days before the Precinct, and the entourage was able to drive down King Street to the Royal Square. It was packed, and some people had apparently even climbed the statue of King George II to get a good vantage point.

In a short ceremony in the States the Bailiff welcomed the Queen to the island in what he appreciated had already been a very busy year for her and had already included State Visits to Portugal, France and Denmark.


The “happiest recollections” of a warm welcome


Pictured: The Queen said the Duke of Edinburgh and her had the "happiest recollections" of their previous visit to the island.  (Jersey Archive)

In reply the Queen said: “My husband and I have the happiest recollections of the warm welcome we received when we were last here.

“Since then, we have travelled widely in many lands and in distant parts of the Commonwealth.

“By reminding you that today I am outside the United Kingdom but within the British Islands, I may best express the special and close relationship which binds us together.”

She also mentioned the “deep anxiety and concern” which her father “felt throughout the enemy occupation of the Channel Islands and how he rejoiced at the liberation”.


Dead mallards on a silver salver


Pictured: The Island’s Seigneurs – or lords of the manor – also paid their allegiance to the monarch. (Jersey Archive)

In a separate ceremony in the Royal Court the Island’s Seigneurs – or lords of the manor – paid their allegiance to the monarch. And, as tradition dictates, the Seigneur of Trinity, Lieutenant-Colonel John Riley, presented Her Majesty with two dead mallards on a silver salver.

The Queen’s final duty before leaving the Royal Square was to unveil the Royal Coat of Arms which had been fashioned out of stone and had recently been inset above the States Members’ entrance to the building.

It commemorated the visit of her father King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to the island in 1945.


Cattle contest


Pictured: The Queen was presented with Beauchamp Oxford Lady, a five-year-old pregnant cow. (Jersey Archive)

Next stop was the headquarters of the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society which at the time was at Springfield, now the island’s premier football ground.

There the Queen inspected 50 local cattle, gave an award for best specimen on show, and was presented with Beauchamp Oxford Lady, a five-year-old pregnant cow, the expectant calf having been “sired by one of Jersey’s most promising young bulls”.


Pictured: A postcard from the visit. (Jersey Archive)

The Queen said the cows would be joining her herd at Windsor.


Buttery coat of arms unveiled after two months’ work


Pictured: Lunch was at West Park Pavilion, now West Park luxury flats. (Jersey Archive)

Lunch was at West Park Pavilion, now West Park luxury flats. Amongst the great and the good there were also spaces for four members of the press.

The long tables were laid out so that the Queen could look out the window to Britannia moored in St Aubin’s Bay. Also, directly in front of her, but inside the room, was a huge Royal Coat of Arms, this time carved in butter. It weighed 195lbs and had taken the Grand’s chef de cuisine, Rudolf Trauffer, two months to make.

After lunch, to calls of “we want the Queen” from the gathered crowds outside, the Queen and Prince Philip appeared on the balcony. The couple waved, and there were cheers and applause from those who had been patiently waiting to catch a glimpse of the visitors.


Hip hip hooray! Extra school holiday… for some


Pictured: The Royal Couple were also introduced introduced to couples celebrating their diamond jubilee wedding anniversaries during their visit. (Jersey Archive)

Shortly before 14:30, the Royal Couple arrived at Victoria College.

Head Prefect Philip Le Brocq read out the Loyal Address in the Great Hall, just as his father had in 1921 when the Queen’s grandfather had visited the school. In reply, it was announced the Queen had agreed to give students an extra four days’ holiday.

At the Victoria Cottage Homes at the top of St. Saviour’s Hill the Queen and Duke were introduced to couples celebrating their diamond jubilee wedding anniversaries.  After this, there was a States’ reception with 2,000 “very smart and well-dressed guests on the lawns at Government House”.

Perhaps to show the couple a corner of the island they had never seen before, or to balance up the 1949 visit, this time the duo toured the Western half of the island, taking in Trinity, St. John, St. Mary, St. Ouen, St. Peter, and St. Brelade.

The final stop was Victoria Avenue where 3,000 schoolchildren had massed and where Jersey College for Girls’ Head Girl, Mary Ching, presented Her Majesty with a bouquet, and Angela Seear of Rouge Bouillon Girls’ School gave the Loyal Address.


A Jersey cutter for a young Prince Charles and a doll for Princess Anne


Pictured: The visit's final stop was Victoria Avenue where 3,000 schoolchildren had massed. (Jersey Archive)

David Watton also gave the Queen a model of a 19th century Jersey cutter, Eclipse, made by the boys of Hautlieu School for Prince Charles, who was now nine years old, whilst Valerie Le Goupil presented the Queen with a doll dressed in traditional island costume for Charles’ seven-year-old sister, Princess Anne.

For some unexplained reason, whilst the boys of Victoria College had been given four days’ holiday, the Queen only gave the island’s other schoolchildren just one day’s holiday. Nevertheless, the news was met by loud applause. The Queen’s second visit to the island was over.


This series is also available in podcast format, and you can listen to this episode below...


Express will be sharing a special digital edition celebrating the life of the Queen and her connection to Jersey on the day of Her Majesty's State Funeral on Monday 19 September.

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