The People of Gibraltar
1900s - The Royal Visits - Master of the Seven Seas

Colonel Dewing and Mr T.Collins - Mr Robert and Montegriffo
Mr Hasluck and S.L. Bensusan - George Stuart White and General J.C. Dalton
Lady White and Paulo Larios - Benoliel and Mrs Joseph A Patron
Mrs H.J. King and Sir Herbert - Lady Miles and John Neish
Messrs Pohoomal and Mr Giuseppi Codali - Detective Inspector Gilbert 

Victoria would soon pass on - but Britain still retained her position during the beginning of the 20th century as the 'greatest power on earth', not just because of her industrial might but because of the sheer size of her Empire - of which Gibraltar was no small part. Those Royal visitors would continue to be carefully hand-guided on to Ragged Staff (see LINK) or the wharf at the Old Mole for many years to come - just as they had during the 19th century. ( see LINK

Duke and Duchess of York and Cornwall

March  20 1901 - The Duke and Duchess of York and Cornwall arrived on the Ophir escorted by the Diadem and Niobe . The future George V and his wife Princess Mary of Teck had only a few months previously added on the extra 'and Cornwall' to their many other titles. They were on their way to Australia and the trip was big news back home in the UK. 


Here is a quote from the Sketch, cringe-worthy even by the standards of the early 1900s
Everybody knows that she (the Ophir ) will carry Rear-Admiral the Duke of Cornwall and York and the Duchess upon the happily thought of Australian trip. The Australians will see more than a Royal Prince and Heir to the Empire on which the sun never sets and his bonnie wife. They will also see
ONE OF THE BEST ADMIRALS IN THE BRITISH FLEET
It is no secret afloat that few of our admirals would care to be compared professionally with our gallant Sailor Prince. Prince George's passion for a life on the ocean wave is well known, and he is never happier than when 'rocked in the cradle of the deep'. No one objects to 'loafing about in harbour' more than he. To fight the raging gale is the Duke's special metier. 'Master of the Seven Seas' is one of the titles of the King of England; how doubly appropriate will it be in the case of our Sailor Prince as next heir to that glorious mastery!

Two Warships in a Swell . . . identified as HMS Diana and HMS Andromeda. They were escorts to HMS Ophir on the Dominion tour of the Duke and Duchess    ( 1901 - Eduardo de Martino )  (See LINK)

The Duke must have been in his element as the weather was dreadful which made  it impossible for  the Royal visitors to land. The Ophir anchored well away from the harbour and then wandered around the Bay the next morning to 'ringing cheers by all the crews'.  All the ships in port were dressed in bunting.  


Bad weather on the Ophir  ( The Graphic )


The Ophir being met on arrival  (The Graphic )




The caption reads:

A visit to the Governor of Gibraltar: The Admiralty Boat on her way
The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York went ashore in Gibraltar in the Admiralty boat manned by sixteen picked seamen and lead by a steam pinnace. Their course lay between two small quays, and over the passage was stretched a broad strip of coloured canvas bearing the word 'Welcome'. On landing at the Dockyard their Royal Highnesses were received by Sir George and Lady White   ( The Graphic - Supplement ) 


The Royal couple being brought ashore ( Illustrated London News )


The  Royal Couple finally make on to dry land


Same again

Once safely on dry land they were subjected to a rigorous program of entertainment: lunch with the Royal Fusiliers at their Line Wall Mess, dinner at the Convent and a procession through town so that the natives could have a good look. And it was the natives themselves who contributed to the occasion by distributing to the poor 1000 lbs of meat and 2000 lbs of bread. According to the Gibraltar Chronicle:
 . .  no one on these eventful days of their Royal Highnesses' visit should feel the pangs of hunger.



( With thanks to Andrew Schembri )



Arrival at the mess-house  of the Royal Fusiliers at Line Wall Road


Reception at the Convent - or Government House according to the original caption  ( Sydney P. Hall )

The Chronicle also carried a detail account of the procession itself:
Passing along the street from Southport Gate we first noticed the Soldiers' Club . . . with its illuminated entrance . .  on the right the Engineer Barracks and Colonel Dewing's house had festoons and lamps. Mr Collins, the tobacconist, ever ready to display his loyalty and his cigars had his house covered with lights  . .  The street was brilliant from light from gas-lit arches. Mr. Robert's Chemist's shop was particularly well done  . . . 
Perhaps the most elaborate  . . of the decorations were those displayed by the Calpe Club ( el Casino Calpe ) the splendid design in gas work, the handsome arch, the festooned greenery  . .  making a great show. Montegriffo had words of welcome illuminating his shop. The Gas office was naturally a blaze of light.
. . . the residence of the Messrs Larios  made a specially brilliant spectacle.. Connaught House, as it is called in memory of when . . Mr. Pablo Larios lent it to His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught was a blaze of colour.
The Bristol and Royal Hotels were profusely lit . .  as were the Grand and the Cecil. The Universal Coffee House and the Victoria Coffee House were prettily decorated. The Post Office was marked out by lights . . . and numerous other places such as the Eastern Telegraph Office, the Rotal Fire Insurance and Mr. Hasluck's Establishment. 

At night the entire fleet was illuminated in the harbour. The next day it rained but bad weather or no bad weather the royal couple were taken across the harbour to the new Detached Mole where they added a huge concrete block to the ongoing construction.  

 Nevertheless, as the guests settled for a dinner party at the Ophir, the Royal Artillery put on a show for them. Holding coloured lamps away from the harbour the men had positioned themselves all along the Rock and at a given signal they turned and the entire form of the Rock was illuminated with coloured lights. A huge bonfire was also lit at Rock Gun and kept going all night. The poor of Gibraltar ate their bread and meat and shook their heads in disbelief.



The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall adding a concrete block to the detached Mole ( The Sphere )




Adding the last block of the New Mole ( Frederick de Haenen )

The newly built mole was under criticism at the time because it was thought to be vulnerable to attack and that not enough thought had been given to its defences. A week or so before the laying of the  block an article appeared on the Sketch outlining the political reasons why such shortsightedness might not be in Britain's interests. It was written by a Gibraltarian journalist - S.L. Bensusan.


Political article by S. L. Bensusan

The Royal couple left two days later to the cheers of the Garrison and sound of the thundering guns from the shore batteries and the ships of the Channel Fleet.



Edward VII
On April 8th 1903 Edward VII arrived in the in Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert. It was the first time a British Sovereign had ever visited the Rock. 


Arrival of the Victoria and Albert   ( The Graphic )



The Graphic



Just after landing


The King in 1903 ( French magazine )



On his way to the Convent perhaps - unusually via Line Wall Road instead of Main Street


Not sure where he is in this one but possibly on his way to the Grand Parade




Grand Parade


Ragged Staff Gate well and truly done up

The town was - as usual for such occasions - gaily en fete and as the Kings entourage passed Mr Collins Tobacconist, during their procession up Main Street, he noticed two veterans with Crimean Medals standing by the doorway. He stopped his carriage, spoke a few words and shook hands with both of them - a day to remember for Messrs T. Collins and John Neish. 

During the after dinner speeches at the Convent, it was the turn of the Governor of Gibraltar - Sir George Stuart White - to feel pleased. The King announced his appointment as Field Marshal.





The appointment of George White as Field Marshal by King Edward



The 'Great Searchlight' display


Field Marshal George Stuart White


Among other chores the King  also laid a coping stone at No 3 Dock which would also known as King Edward VII Dock    ( The Graphic )


King Edward stayed till the 13th April when he left for Malta ( The Graphic )


The procession 

A series of undated photographs, one of which shows Edward VII may or may not refer to this particular visit to Gibraltar by King Edward VII. 


Royal coach at the ready outside Mount Pleasant, once the official residence of the Admiral of the fleet in Gibraltar. The King may have preferred its superb location to that of the rather drabber Governor's residence in the Convent


The same carriage with the King. His companion looks suspiciously like the Kaiser, but there is no evidence that the two were ever in Gibraltar at the same time. The look-alike is almost certainly the Governor, Sir George Stuart White. 


Welcoming the King - probably somewhere in the Alameda Gardens



These two photographs were possibly taken outside the Mount during Edward's visit. Some of these people may have been local servants and other dogsbodies responsible for looking after the place during his visit

There is no doubt that the visit of King Edward VII was considered as a massive event in Gibraltar. As local Historian, Tommy Finlayson suggests in his Stories from the Rock, even before the King had actually set foot on the Rock it became an all absorbing topic. Everybody seemed determined that no expense should be spared as regards decorating the place in an appropriate manner. According to the Chronicle:
. . . blossoms of every hue beatified many of the arches, festoons of folage spanned the streets, and choice blooms were piled in balconies and on window-ledges to be flung down in scented showers as the King's carriage passed below.
In Convent Place, Mr Tudbury, the local architect responsible for the construction of the Sacred Heart Church, erected a fifty foot high Moorish arch. The Supreme Court had the word 'Justice' in lights, and the Casino Calpe had an arch surmounted by Britannia.


This arch was constructed on the occasion of the Prince of Wales' visit in 1876 - Difficult to believe the Casino Calpe would have dared to use a second-hand arch now that he was King . . .  but . . . 


The Cathedral, the Chamber of Commerce, Connaught House, the Mediterranean Rowing Club were all conventionally decorated but Messrs Pohoomal, on behalf of the Indian community, demonstrated their loyalty with a display of beautiful Indian tapestries. 

On the last day of his visit the King planted three pine trees in the garden of the Convent. They had originally been sown and nursed as seedlings by Mr. Giuseppi Codali, Head Gardener of the Alameda Gardens. And that was the end of that.


A slight exageration?


The Victoria and Albert leaving town in style

Queen Alexandra with Princess Charles Denmark

In Mar 28 1905 Queen Alexandra - wife of Edward VII - and her daughter Princess Charles Denmark arrived on the Royal Yacht.


The arrival of Queen Alexandra   ( The Graphic )

According to the Graphic magazine;
When the Queen arrived at Gibraltar all the ships of the Atlantic Fleet and the 2nd Cruiser Squadron both of which happened to be at the Rock at the time. They all fired salutes and dressed and manned ships. As soon as the Royal Yacht was moored, all the Admirals went on board. Very soon afterwards her majesty went on shore in a barge, passing through a double line of cutters with oars raised. The scene thus presented was exceedingly pretty.
They left on March 31st.

On May 17th 1905 Queen Alexandra returned to Gibraltar with her daughter Princess Victoria and the Prince and Princess Charles Denmark. This time it was an unofficial visit. They had tea at the convent with Lady White who later took her to see the newly opened Military Hospital, aka Station Hospital, aka Wedgewood Castle - and later more commonly  known as the Royal Naval Hospital. They were accompanied by General J.C. Dalton, who was acting Governor at the time.  In his youth he had once been an editor of the Gibraltar Chronicle.



The new Military Hospital     ( Beanland Malin ) (see LINK


Queen Alexandra, wife of Edward VI, her daughter Princess Victoria and two Royal dogs aboard the Royal Yacht







                                       Queen Alexandra on her visit to the Almoraima


Prince and Princess of Wales

A year or so later on April 30th 1906 Prince and Princess of Wales - the future George V and his wife - arrived on HMS Renown. He was on his way back home after -among other things - hunting tigers in India. The left on May the 2nd.


Prince and Princess of Wales


Queen Alexandra and Princess Victoria

Less than a month later on May 14th 1906 their mother Queen Alexandra was back in Gibraltar together with her daughter Princess Victoria,. During their stay they drove through town and visited Algeciras and the waterfalls. They were also entertained in Guadacorte by both the Larios (see LINK) and Mr. Benoliel (see LINK) who owned impressive properties in the area.


Drawing of the Palacio de Guadacorte owned by the Larios family ( A. Alvarez )

Princess Royal and the Duke of Fife
On February 5 1907 the Princess Royal and her husband the Duke of Fife visited Gibraltar for the first time. They seemed to have loved the place as they stayed for a month. Less than a year later they were back. This time they stayed for over three months.


Duke of Connaught , the Duchess and Princess Patricia 

It was then the turn of the aging Duke of Connaught. He simply couldn't keep away. He had been accumulating titles over the years and was now not only a Field Marshal but also High Commissioner of the Mediterranean. He arrived on April 6 1908 and he did not come alone. His wife the Duchess of Connaught, his daughter the lovely Princess Patricia and a large retinue of military staff and hangers-on came along with him. While on the Rock he accompanied the Governor to the Upper Rock and took part in the annual mobilization exercises. They left on the 12th of April.




Duke and Duchess of Connaught and family