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Opinion & Analysis

Nostalgia reflections and dreams

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip during their 1954 visit to Gibraltar.

By Joe Adambery

It was lunchtime at 52 Kingsway House Alameda Estate on the day that I, as a six and a half year old, heard my late father give us the news that King George had died in his sleep (Feb 6. 1952).

He also said that young Princess Elizabeth would be proclaimed Queen of England and its Empire.

Why that memory has stuck in my head is because my father like most, if not all Gibraltarians of that era, was a staunch monarchist and he had solemnly said “The King is dead long, live the Queen!”

Two years later in 1954 as a pupil of St Joseph’s junior school at Scud Hill, we were drilled for the new Queen’s official visit to the Rock and for the last seventy years of my life I have known and cherished that Queen Elizabeth has always been our Queen.

A few years later when the time came for me to be allowed go to the cinema with my friends I remember that the National Anthem would be played before the programme and we were expected to stand up for it, or face being flashed by the attendant’s torch or be reprimanded for not standing up.

I always complied but sometimes the rascal in me would sit back and delay the upstanding and inevitably I would get flashed and told off. On one occasion in the old Rialto Cinema it was my uncle Alfred Roman who flashed me and bundled me out of the cinema.

The irony for him was that as cinema attendant he had allowed me in free of charge bless his soul. In those days (mid 1950s) the cinema programmes consisted of the Royal Anthem “God save The Queen”, Pathe or MovieTone propaganda newsreels, forthcoming film trailers, and a few local advertisements before the main feature, all usually in black and white.

I don’t have many clear childhood recollections other than various visits to the royal berth in front of the tower in the old dockyard, by the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Our window on the fifth floor of Kingsway House was a great vantage point to check out the home fleet on their regular visits to the Rock.

From that kitchen window I had been a witness to the fire raging on the SS Bedenham minutes before she blew up, leaving a death toll of thirteen and very significant damage across most of Gibraltar (27 April 1951).

Much later I recall Prince Charles (now King Charles), with the late Princess Diana arriving here for their first stop on their honeymoon (1st August 1981).

Because of our close colonial ties with the UK, throughout my life, Royalty, especially our dear departed Queen Elizabeth, has featured regularly in our education, news, civic events, military parades and jubilee pageants.

We will now have a huge gap to fill in our collective memory and almost certainly all of my generation are suffering a deep sense of loss at the sunset of the Elizabethan era which ended last Thursday afternoon when the Queen died.

Happily though, we know our new King as he has been to the Rock on a few occasions and we have seen him here in the flesh.

Now the big question is whether those who advise our Royals will ever deem it politically correct to allow the new king to visit our homeland, when he eventually sets out to visit the commonwealth as our reigning monarch.
I am a patient man and an optimist.

I know that bigger dreams unfold for many people every day and in the wake of the current new understanding with our neighbour to the north and hopefully soon a new treaty with the European Union, which will underscore future progress and prosperity for everyone in the region, I dare to dream that a future Royal visit by our King has to be on the cards all the time.

That would be a dream coming true for all monarchists who would have loved more than anything that our late Queen Elizabeth would have been allowed to visit the Rock for a second time during her long and outstanding reign just ended.

If such a royal visit ever took place in the future, I don’t doubt that our new King would ever receive a warmer welcome anywhere else.

Of that I am sure.

Whenever that time comes, if it comes at all, I hope that our significant UK lobby would fuel that dream with their influence and vigorous support for Gibraltar in order to make a reality that a reigning British monarch will once again visit the Rock of Gibraltar where the staunchest monarchists of the Commonwealth reside.