March Royal Visits
iNostalgia remembers royal visits to Manchester over the years that all took place in March.
March seems to have been a favourite month for royalty making their way to Manchester.
The Queen and Princess Diana captivated crowds in five trips to the city from 1949 to 1991.
Manchester was rebuilding after World War II when the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, and the Duke of Edinburgh inspected the guard in Albert Square on March 30th 1949.
The Princess looked resplendent in her fur coat as she walked down the ranks of soldiers lined up along the tram tracks. Escorting her was Colonel R.D. Martin Bird.
The royal couple were on a two-day tour of Lancashire which took in Liverpool and Manchester. They were treated to a rapturous reception wherever they went.
In Liverpool, Princess Elizabeth officially opened the West Waterloo Lock and formally unlocked the Great Central Door of Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral.
In Manchester, she opened the garden of remembrance at the cenotaph and then toured local factories. The Duke of Edinburgh was fascinated to see the new technology developed by Manchester industry.
Technology played a major part in the Queen’s next March visit to Manchester in 1965.
She toured the Mather and Platt factory, making a point of talking to workers on the shop floor.
Mather and Platt were mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and fire suppression engineers. They manufactured a wide range of equipment including steel roller shutters and flame-proof motors.
The Queen also visited Manchester Grammar School where she was greeted by High Master Peter Mason, Chairman of Governors Mr J.H. King and School Captain Stephen Schaefer.
She met more youthful machinists when she toured the school’s metalwork and woodwork classes, as our picture shows.
The year 1965 was to prove eventful for the Queen and Commonwealth. In November, Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian smith declared unilateral independence from Britain while still insisting on his loyalty and devotion to the monarch.
The Queen dismissed him in a formal declaration and sanctions were enforced, but Smith’s regime lasted for more than a decade.
In March 1986 the Queen was again catching up with science and innovation in Manchester. This time it was at the control room at the Greater Manchester police headquarters.
Still carrying a bouquet of flowers, she chatted to staff in front of their computer screens at the main motorway control room.
Flowers were the order of the day when a radiant Queen waved to well-wishers in Stockport in March 1991. She delighted crowds in the town centre as she stopped to talk to as many people as possible.
The Queen’s warmth and humanity shone through what was a momentous time for the royal family.
The Gulf War had ended just a month before with a victory for the allies and the Queen became the first British monarch to address a joint meeting of the United States Congress.
The next 12 months would come to be known as the Queen’s annus horribilis – horrible year. She first used the term in a speech on November 24th 1992 to mark the 40th anniversary of her accession.
In March 1992 Prince Andrew separated from his wife Sarah, Princess and Captain Mark Phillips divorced in April and a large fire ripped through part of Windsor Castle in November.
Princess Diana left her cares behind when she came to Manchester with Prince Charles in March 1991. Problems in the royal marriage, reported from as early as 1985, were laid bare in Andrew Morton’s book Diana: Her True Story in May 1992.
But the Princess of Wales, dressed in tartan, was at her charming best when she met crowds outside Manchester Art Gallery in Moseley Street.
Princess Diana was celebrated for her charity work. She was involved with many organisations, including the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
She also did much to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, cancer and mental illness.
Princess Diana was back in the Manchester a few months later in November 1991 when she visited Wigan and Didsbury and opened the Francis House Children’s Hospice.