Mauritius having been a British Colony between 1810 and 1968 (until Indepedence) has received quite some Royal Visits all along: 1870, 1901, 1927, 1956, 1972, and 1976, and each of these different personalities brought their own royal touch to the country. The Royal Visits to Mauritius are listed as follows:
1870: The Duke of Edimbourg (The second son of Queen Victoria)
1901: The Duke and Duchess of Cornouailles & York (King Georges V and Queen Mary)
1927: The Duke and Duchess of York (King Georges VI and Queen Elizabeth)
1956: Her Royal Highness (HRH) Princess Margaret
1972 (March): Her Royal Highness (HRH) Queen Elizabeth II
1972 (September): Her Royal Highness (HRH) Princess Alexandra
Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, was the only sibling of Queen Elizabeth II and the younger daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. She left London on the 21st of September 1956 by air for her 5-week tour of East Africa and Mauritius. From London she went to Mombasa and from Mombasa she boarded the Britannia, the Royal Yatch of her Majesty, to Mauritius. This trip to the island lasted 3 days and then follow to Zanzibar, Tanganyika and Kenya. On 1st October, the Royal Yatch left the harbour of Mauritius.
The arrival of the Princess was a spectacular event; the population was unified to make the island as beautiful as possible and together to provide the warmest welcome possible to the Royal Visit.
On Saturday 29th September hundreds of thousands of people gathered at, near and round the harbour and its vicinities (The Government House, The Treasury building, La Chaussee etc) to welcome the boarding yatch. Canons were fired at the Fort George and these 21 rounds greeted the Princess in a distinctive manner.
Temporarily the Railway Lines serving the transport of Passengers which was halted on the 31st March of the same year was re-opened to allow Mauritians to bring their welcome touch for the Princess’ Arrival in the Capital. The Mauritius Government Railways on such an occasion provided special trains and carried about 21,000 passengers to the promised destination of Port Louis. Special train tickets were also issued on that day.
At 10h30 Princess Margaret was acclaimed both by the joyful crowd and the respective personalities; the Governor Sir Robert Scott, the Mayor of Port Louis Dr Millien and the Vice-Mayor Dr Seewoosagur Ramgoolam among others. The visit followed to the Government House accompanied by the Governor.
At 11h20 the Princess visited Port Louis through different streets including China Town, and due to the mass and out-of-control crowd, the visit was seriously affected. The crowd at the Barracks got loose and tried to mingle with the cortege. People tried to climb on the sides of the vehicle carrying the princess in view to touch her or take up-close pictures. The bodyguards must have had seen of all colors. This was the one incident which was unfortunately categorized as regrettable.
After the visit at the Barracks, Princess Margaret took the direction towards Cassis, still in Port Louis, where she laid the first stone for the construction of the new Royal College of Port Louis.
At 12h15 she left Cassis and went towards Beau Bassin and Rose Hill via the Royal Road and similarly to the streets of Port Louis, the crowd was gathered at each sides of the road to greet Her Royal Highness. At Rose Hill, the troup briefly stopped near the Rose Hill Train Station where a flower bouquet was remitted to the Princess in the name of the Queen Elizabeth College, courtesy of Mrs Prabha Ghurburrun.
At 12h45 the visit lead to the State House at Reduit and at 15h30 the Princess assisted at a special Horse Race at the Champ de Mars. She was greeted by some 150,000 Mauritians as she was driven around the Champ de Mars.The Day (29.09.1956) ended with a Royal Banquet at the Government House on the honour of the Pricess Margaret.
The next day, Sunday 30th September 1956, the Princess assisted a mass held at the St Paul Anglican Church of Vacoas in the morning, service animated by the Bishop Hugh Van Lynden Otter-Barry.
At 11h40, after the service, Princess Margaret visited the Candos Hospital (Victoria Hospital) where she inaugurated the new Orthopaedic Centre which is named after her; Princess Margaret Orthopaedic Centre. She then spent the afternoon in the South of the island and at the State House.
On the last day, 1st October 1956, Princess Margaret visited the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden in the North where, as tradition demands, she planted a commemorative tree. On the East of the island she visted the Union Flacq Sugar Estate where the Princess is welcomed by Andre Nairac and Fernand Leclezio.
Back to the State House in Reduit, she attends a final Garden Party hosted by the Governor at which more than 1200 guests were also invited, after which she boarded the Britannia again to continue her tour.
Click here to watch a short video of Princess Margaret in Mauritius.
Mixed Source: +Le Mauricien