Queen in Sierra Leone, 1961

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were on an extensive month-long Tour of West Africa on this day in 1961 (60 years ago), visiting Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Gambia. The Tour of West Africa came after an extensive 2-month Tour of India and Pakistan with State Visits to Nepal and Iran, as well as the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Banquet, which were followed by State Visits to Italy and the Vatican in May, and a long stay in Scotland in the Summer.

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The next stop was in Sierra Leone, where the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were hosted by Governor-General Sir Maurice Henry Dorman. As the Queen of Sierra Leone, the Queen (wearing the Vladimir Tiara and Cambridge Emerald Parure) presided over the Opening of Parliament in Freetown. The Country had gained its Independence earlier that year, in April, and was a Dominion, with the Queen as Head of State, until becoming a Republic in 1971.

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The highlight of the visit was a spectacular Bo Durbar, which included a Parade of fifteen traditional Chieftains who paid homage to the Queen (wearing the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara and the Coronation Necklace and Earrings). The Queen (in the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara) and Duke also attended another Durbar at Port Loko with a display of traditional dancing.

There was also a spectacular Banquet hosted by Prime Minster Sir Milton Margai and the Governor-General in honour of the Queen (wearing Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik Tiara) at the Paramount Hotel in Freetown, which was followed by a Garden Party hosted by Sir Milton Margai, one of the last events on the visit to Sierra Leone.

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