The 16-year old Duke of Kent accompanied his mother, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, on a five-week Tour of the Far East in 1952, exactly 70 years ago, visiting Singapore, Malaya, Borneo, Brunei, Sarawak, and Hong Kong in addition to several stops on the journey.
After setting off from London at the end of September, Princess Marina and the Duke of Kent stopped in Rome and Cyprus, before a stopover in Bahrain for a few hours, where they were received by the Sheikh at the Royal Palace in Manama. After additional stops in Karachi and Colombo, the Duchess and Duke arrived in Singapore.
In Singapore, the Duchess’ main purpose was to open the new clinic of the Anti-Tuberculosis Association as the President of the National Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis. There was also a Garden Party, a Dinner hosted by the Legislative Council, and a Ball in honour of Princess Marina (wearing her Pearl Bandeau and Diamond Circle Earrings) and the Duke at Government House.
In Malaya, The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment, of which the Duchess was Colonel-in-Chief, was serving. After a visit to the Regiment, Princess Marina (in the Kent Festoon Tiara and Girandole Earrings) and the Duke attended a Grand Reception in Kuala Lumpur, and visited a Rubber Plantation.
Afterwards, the Duchess and Duke spent ten days touring Borneo and Sarawak, followed by a visit to Brunei, where they were received by the Sultan, and then a visit to Hong Kong, which was the last stop of a long Tour.
On the journey home, Princess Marina and the Duke of Kent stopped in her native Athens to spend a few days with the Greek Royal Family (more on that later this month) before returning to London, where the Queen and Royal Family received the Duchess at the airport and there was a Luncheon in her honour at the Guildhall in London.
She has won the hearts of the peoples in the Far East Colonies and proved a worthy ambassadress of the Crown. Throughout the visit, in temperatures which might well prove trying to the most hardened Eastern traveller, the Duchess appeared cool and charming This did not necessarily depend on an expensive, exclusive wardrobe especially designed for the occasion. Many of the dresses the Duchess wore were ordinary cotton models on sale in most stores. To them, Her Royal Highness added her own instinctive dress sense and her natural elegance. Whether she was eating curried goat with the Sultan of Brunei, meeting the Borneo Dyaks or appeared as the guest of honour at Government House a Singapore. She was always the same cool, gracious figure.