Queen Elizabeth II & HMY "Britannia"

By: Lynn E. McElfresh, Rick Casali

Volume 17, Issue 9, September 2022

Like the rest of the world, we in the Thousand Islands will have our own personal memories of the Queen. Looking up photographs of the Queen's yacht, we discovered that our own Lynn McElfresh had written a lovely article for TI Life in April 2013! This article is well worth re-reading. Also, this week we received a revised article by Rick Casali from his original version published by the TI Sun in 2021. We include extracts from the articles here.

Excerpt: Lynn E. McElfresh's April article in 2013

When we travel to different corners of the world, I’m always amazed how often our experiences somehow link back to the St. Lawrence River. Our stay in Scotland in February provided two such links. I wrote about the St. Lawrence River Tartan last month. This month I’ll share our tour of the Britannia, the Royal Yacht of Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth II.
The 415-foot, 5,000+ ton vessel was the floating home of the royal family for 44 years. The elegant blue-hulled beauty sailed over a million miles around the world on 968 official voyages. Two of those voyages took her under the Thousand Island Bridge and sailing past Grenell Island.
The Britannia was decommissioned in 1997 and is now moored in Leith Harbor near Edinburgh, Scotland. My husband, Gary, and I were only two of the quarter of a million visitors she’ll attract this year. We spent an entire morning aboard the yacht exploring her nooks and crannies . . .
On June 28, 1959, Britannia sailed under the Thousand Island Bridge. When we stood on the back deck, I imagined what Queen Elizabeth might have seen as she passed Grenell. There would have been a flotilla of small boats lining the seaway as she headed toward Lake Ontario. Lots of Grenellians remember watching the Royal Yacht
Britannia passed Grenell again in 1967. Queen Elizabeth attended Expo ‘67 in Montreal, then cruised from Montreal to Kingston. The Queen disembarked in Kingston, traveled to Ottawa, then flew back to London. While I didn’t see Britannia on the St. Lawrence, I’ve seen the pictures and heard the stories. But I think of the other vessels like the Roseway, which I saw in St. Croix, and then in the Seaway; the Staten Island Ferry, which was en route from its builder on Lake Superior and on its way to New York City. We will be arriving for the 2013 season next month and I have to wonder what special vessels I will see on the Seaway this year. How blessed we are to be a part of this grand River that connects us with the rest of the world.

Description of several rooms followed Read the complete article here: https://tilife.org/BackIssues/Archive/tabid/393/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/1202/Her-Majestyrsquos-Royal-Yacht.html

Rick Casali's Excerpt from the TI Sun, August 2021 :

During the queen’s 45-day visit and the dedication of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the "Britannia" was in full ship dress with nautical code flags, the queen’s personal yacht burgee, and, of course, the Union Jack flag. She must have been quite a regal sight.
Photograph provided by Rick Casali from his TI Sun article, where he describes the two visits Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's yacht, the Britannia, made through the Thousand Islands.

The Queen and the President were near Massena, NY, to open the canal’s Eisenhower Lock for the ship to pass through. The destroyer HMCS Kootenay and U. S. Army howitzer batteries gave the Queen and the President a number of 21-gun salutes during the dedication. And Vice President Richard Nixon greeted the Queen and Prince in
Massena, where 100,000 celebrants were on hand to greet the dignitaries, and to commemorate the Moses-Saunders Dam as well as the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Massena Central High School band played “God Save the Queen” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” as part of the dedication ceremony. Also on hand was New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Also on hand was New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller.

The Britannia paused off the St. Regis Reservation, as she entered U. S. waters. And she then proceeded up the St. Lawrence River, and on June 28, 1959 passed under the 1000 Island Bridge span in the American Channel. So, she passed by Wellesley Island, Boldt Castle, Grindstone Island, Alexandria Bay, and Clayton, NY. It would have been special to witness her transit through North Country waters. In fact, this cruise of the "Britannia" was making history as this was the first British monarch to visit the North

After passing under the bridge, Queen Elizabeth and the "Britannia" made landfall in Kingston, Ont. The monarch then visited Toronto and Chicago on board the "Britannia". President Eisenhower was reported to be on board the royal yacht for a portion of the voyage. Everywhere that the Queen visited, she was warmly welcomed by both Canadians and Americans. Only 33 years of age at the time, Queen Elizabeth II was reported to be softly spoken and was known for her elegant dress and manner.

No matter your memory, we know the world joins in the recognition that Queen Elizabeth II was a remarkable monarch with a remarkable reign of 70 years.

Compiled by Susan W. Smith for Volume 17, Issue 9, September 2022.

We thank Stuart Arnett for sharing his flag at half mast and saying, "God save the Queen, Love live the King."

Posted in: Volume 17, Issue 9, September 2022, People, Places, History

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