Grandmother’s travel journal: To London to visit the Queen
This is a snippet of my grandmother’s travel journal from 1952. It’s the first in my time travel series. As I mentioned in this post, we both travelled Europe quite extensively, but 56 years apart. The pages of each our travel diaries reveal such uniqueness – the times in which we lived, our perspectives on the places we visited, the connections we made, and ourselves. But there is a familiarity in there too.
My grandmother’s name was Marjorie Mann (until she married and became Marjorie Moody), but I called her Nan. Ever since I was a child, I was told that I was a “little Marj”. I found it irritating, to be honest. I just wanted to be my own person – known for being me, not somebody else. One of Nan’s key personality traits was her independence. Of course, this was something that I, too, inherited. I am eager to compare our journeys throughout Europe to see what else I can discover about the world, my grandmother and myself.
This is where Nan’s travel diary and her European journey begins…
June 6th 1952
Having arrived in London on the 4th June after a very lovely sea voyage during which time we called at Colombo, Aden, Port Said, Naples, Marseilles and Gibraltar. Each port held new interests and enjoyed Naples, Marseilles and Gibraltar best.
The Cathedrals of Notre Dame de Guardias at Marseilles was well worth a visit and would like to see it again. As a result of this last minute visit, Shirley Crommelin, Robert Pack and self nearly missed the ship – thanks to my dear St Christopher we got back in time. Please God the visit may assist Shirley and also Robert who claims to be an atheist.
On arrival in London and calling on Savoy House was presented with an invitation to the Royal Presentation Party on June 12th to be preceded by a tea party hosted by the Marchioness of Salisbury at Lancaster House on 10th June.
The tea party went off quite nicely. I wore a floral frock, chartreuse hat, black bay gloves and shoes, also a strand pearl choker. At the party I met both Lillian Atkinson (ex WAAF) and Margaret Johnson who trained with Jess.
June 12th Presentation party day
Wore my blue grey moss crepe frock with 3 pink roses as a corsage also a new black sisal hat adorned with a rose to match my corsage and black shoes and also the little black cocktail handbag, which Pete and Barb gave me. Jo’s frock was of honey coloured lace and she had black accessories.
We drove to Buckingham Palace in a specially hired taxi and had been given stickers for the windowscreen of the car “X – Buckingham Palace”. There were hundreds of other taxis and cars waiting in the Hall and during the time we were waiting old Queen Mary was driving past. She looked very regal and stately.
On entering the Palace we went up a long staircase and were shown into a beautiful room where we sat in rows until we had to proceed row at a time until we were one continual que about 3 feet apart stretching through the bottom end of the Presentation Room out the opposite side and along another room until we came parallel with the Queen and members of the Royal family who were seated at the top end of the large hall. The decorations of flags, flowers and lavishly uniformed guards made a very colourful spectacle. At one end of the room an orchestra was assembled on a balcony and they played some very lovely soft music.
I handed my presentation card to the Lord Chamberlain who handed it on further and by the time I had reached the mark on the floor immediately in front of the Queen my name was called out, just as I was making my curtsey. Three steps to the right brought me in front of the Duke where I again curtseyed. Both the Queen and Duke looked straight at me and gave a lovely personal smile. The Queen is a charming, lovely looking girl and the Duke is certainly a handsome man. The Queen has a lovely complexion which looks absolutely flawless.
After curtseying I proceeded on through the room to the Throne Room where afternoon tea was served to us. Jo went to the Picture Gallery for tea and I joined her later. Other girls I knew from Western Australia were Lillian Aikinson and Margaret Johnson. There were about 400 presented in all from all parts of the British Empire.
The Palace is so beautifully decorated it is really magnificent and can only be appreciated when seen. The ceilings and walls took my fancy they are so artistically decorated. The wall over colour is just off white or a creamy colour and the doors are beautifully painted and patterns picked out in gold. The chandeliers are scintillating and simply magnificent – carpets are luxurious and furnishings are of antique type in all kinds of lovely woods. Tapestries decorate the walls in addition to dozens of magnificent paintings – mostly oils and of members of the Royal families. Mirrors are used extensively in decorations and most of the doors have mirrors on each side. Strolled through quite a few rooms and viewed the garden at the front of the palace.
Have since signed the visitors book – actually did so one Sunday about 6:30 when I was walking past the Palace. It was rather funny. I inquired from the policeman at the gate and he said, “Oh yes, you just walk across the courtyard” to a door which was opposite the gate and there without any fuss or bother I signed my name in the Buckingham Palace Visitors Book.