The People of Gibraltar
1900s - The Royal Visits - Pomp and Ceremony


Kaiser Wilhelm II

On the 18th of March 1904, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany arrived in Gibraltar aboard the North German Lloyd steamship Koenig Albert escorted by the armoured cruiser Prinz Freiderich Karl. He was welcomed by the Governor of Gibraltar, Sir George Stuart White.


The Koenig Albert outside Gibraltar Harbour


The German Armoured Cruiser Prinz Frederich Karl


Ships of the Channel Squadron saluting the arrival of the Kaiser


The Kaiser  being greeted by a guard of honour with a bedecked Koenig Albert as a backdrop.


Waiting for the Kaiser?



Are they coming or going?




The Welcome party

The long route to the convent from Waterport was through the Casemates, all the way to Europa Point, then to North Front and finally back to the Convent for Lunch.  The route was  lined with troops and bluejackets as well as cheering crowds. The locals probably didn't make much of an impression but the Kaiser was taken by the 'seamanlike appearance of the bluejackets - which might have had something to do with the fact that they were all wearing very nautical looking sennet hats. He also admired the fine physique of the soldiers.


The Kaiser and Sir George White on their way to Europa Point


The Emperor being escorted through the town by the Governor, Sir George White. Wilhelm is wearing the uniform of a 'British field Marshal'

As part of the hospitality program, the Kaiser was taken on a tour of Gibraltar's fortifications. He was just as complimentary about them as he had been for the bluejackets. He was not surprised at Gibraltar's reputation for impregnability but they had certainly surpassed his expectations. His diplomatic and much quoted comment was that the Rock was a 'grand' place,  'like everything English '.

Later he entertained Vice-Admiral Lord Charles Beresford - who had recently been appointed commander of the Channel squadron - aboard the Koenig Albert. It was in many ways a curious meeting. Since 1902, Britain had considered Germany as its principle naval enemy. The Channel squadron that Beresford commanded had just been created from a reorganisation of the Home fleet in order to protect British home waters from Germany. It now had the biggest and the most powerful ships available and was - to paraphrase the Kaiser, as 'grand' as everything else in the Royal Navy.


The Kaiser and Lord Beresford





The Channel Squadron at Gibraltar - The ship in the middle of the harbour could be HMS  Majestic probably the biggest dreadnought in the Royal Navy at the time


The Channel Squadron. Most of these were sister ships to the Majestic. These were the last battleships to be built with side by side funnels


The Channel Squadron - photo probably taken from the Koenig Albert


Back to the Koenig Albert for the last time.


Farewell to Gibraltar

Yet for all the importance one would have expected the Gibraltar authorities to have attached to a visit by an immediate relative of the Royal family - as well as the head of an important European power - it is not even given a mention in the pre-war Gibraltar Directory of 1937.

Kaiser Wilhelm II - Second Visit

In 1905 the Kaiser visited Tangier on a political mission which was more or less forced upon him by his Reichstag ministers. They wanted him to bolster the position of the Sultan of Morocco in relation to the French. After much humming and hawing he reluctantly travelled to Tangier to do as he was asked. It was not a success. On his return home he stopped at Gibraltar and was met with a frosty reception. This is how Wilhelm himself put it in his Memoirs.
The first I learned about the consequences of my Tangier visit was when I got to Gibraltar and was formally and frigidly received by the English, in marked contrast to my cordial reception the year before.
The visit is again omitted from many of those local Gibraltar records where one would have expected it to have been mentioned. 


Leaving Gibraltar?






Luncheon party  at the Mount - dated 3rd March

In 1909 The Kaiser's Yacht, the Hohenzollern, called at Gibraltar on her way to Venice to pick up Wilhelm and his wife. Although the text above the photos on the newspaper clipping below have little to do with Gibraltar a quick browse identifies the growing tensions building up as a prelude to the Great War - Austro-German successes over Serbia, the ongoing arguments about Crete, the threat of Russian intervention in Persia and so forth.


The explanatory text under the two photographs are quoted in full below:
The Hohenzollern at Gibraltar - Our German Visitors Making the Round of the Rock' Count Von Platen and Herr F. Schott (see LINK) at the German Consulate
A German sailor wandering about town. The Emperor William's yacht Hohenzollern put in at Gibraltar the other day on her way to Venice, where the Kaiser and Kaiserina joined her this week on their trip to Corfu. Naturally both officers and crew availed themselves of the opportunity thus afforded to inspect our Mediterranean strong-hold, and in their usual easy-going way, the authorities seem to have  allowed them to wander pretty well where they liked. Photographs by Mrs A.G. Smith.
It is quite obvious that there were quite a few important people on the Rock and back home in England who were not amused. During his second visit the Kaiser came on board the S.S. Hamburg escorted by a cruiser. The German warship managed to hit HMS Prince Geeorge which sustained considerable damage. The excuse was that the Admiralty pilot's order to go astern had been misinterpreted as "Go ahead".


King Manoel II
In Oct 6th 1910 King Manoel II of Portugal and his mother Queen Amelia arrived  on his yacht the Amelia IV.  Unfortunately he hadn't come for a holiday. Shortly before he had left his country it had been taken over by Republicans. Manuel had decided to embark for Oporto but changed his mind on route and travelled to Gibraltar. 



The Amelia - The ship that brought the Portuguese Royals to Gibraltar 



Manoel II and his mother Queen Amelia arriving on the Rock

When they disembarked they received notice that Oporto had fallen to the Republicans. 




King Manoel II and retinue arrived .. . and leave the Cathedral of Saint Mary the Crowned.



An object-lesson ( 1910 - The Auckland Star )

The Manoel and his mother  then departed for the United Kingdom as exiles.


Kaiser Wilhelm II

There is photographic evidence that suggest that the Kaiser, aboard the Hohenzollern, visited the Rock yet again in 1911 - but it is hard to tell whether he stayed on board or not. He was almost certainly not formally entertained by the authorities.



The Hohenzollern  anchored outside Gibraltar harbour



King George V and Queen Mary

On November the 14th 1911 King George V and Queen Mary arrived in the Medina for a very short visit. He had only recently been crowned king. The Atlantic Fleet formed up into two lines outside the harbour so that the Medina could travel through it. After landing at Waterport they drove in an open horse-drawn carriage to the Convent while troops lined the streets. At Casemates the crowd was only allowed to stand at the northern end as a large military band occupied the other side. 

I suspect that they did not indulge in any kind of official activity as I can't find any photographs of the visit anywhere. They arrived at 9 o'clock in the evening and left at 10.45 in the morning the next day. The Grand Parade may also have been decorated with pavilions for  this visit. 






King George V and Queen Mary

 George and Mary did return in April  of the following year.



The RMS Medina was intended - and eventually became - a P & O Royal Mail Ship. While it was being built it was decided that it would be used for the trip to the Delhi Durbar. The ship was therefore, commissioned as a Royal Yacht. It was provided with an extra mast, so as to maintain Royal flag etiquette, and it had a white hull with bands of royal blue and gold and buff funnels   ( William Burchill )

King George and Queen Mary returned on the 30th of January 1912 after their excertions at the monumental Durbar in Delhi proclaiming them Emperor and Empress of India. They were again unable to stay for long. This time their official timetable had been curtailed by the death of the Duke of Fife, their daughter Victoria's husband. Nevertheless a Spanish fleet with the Infante Don Carlos of Spain on board arrived from Algeciras, the first time a fleet from this country had been seen in Gibraltar since 1873. Don Carlos was allowed to land without too much fuss and had the usual audience with the English monarch and his wife.



That Spanish Fleet is supossed to be in there somewhere - but is not unmentioned by the newspaper correspondent 


Commercial Square decorated for King George V and his wife

While he was in Gibraltar, the 1st Battalion of the Staffordshire Regiment received their new colours from the King in the Grand Parade. 






Possibly Queen Mary following in King George V's footsteps - in an open carriage

Quite a few postcards were published of this rather colourful event








The King also made himself useful elsewhwere.


A visit to the Colonial Hospital



The King and Queen meet the dean of the Protestant Cathedral - but I am not sure where this is


Visiting the Exchnage and Commercial library

During a special ceremony, a bouquet was presented to the Queen at the Exchange Building by Mrs Joseph A Patron and Mrs H. J. King, the wives of two influential local worthies. 


The Princess Royal 
Shortly afterwards on the 20th of February 1912 HMS Powerful with the Princess Royal and the remains of her husband the Duke of Fife on board arrived and then left almost immediately for England.

Prince Albert



Nov 19th 1913, Prince Albert - the future George VI arrived aboard HMS Collingwood serving as a sub-lieutenant. He lunched with the Governor Sir Herbert Miles and his wife and Lady Miles, visited the upper Rock and was soon away leaving the Rock to its own devices.



HMS Collingwood

The Great War intervened and Royal visits were more or less reduced to serving members of the Royal family calling aboard their respective ships. There were of course one or two exceptions. in April 1921 Prince Hirohito the crown Prince of Japan came visiting. 




Massive welcoming party as Prince Hirohito lands in Gibraltar

The Prince of Wales

In 1921 and 1922 the Prince of Wales - eventually the future Edward VIII - carried out an eight month tour of the Far East on the Battlecruiser HMS Renown most of which entailed visits to India and Japan.  A book of the tour was later written by the journalist Sir Percival Phillips. It was heavily illustrated with photographs and paintings. 



HMS Renown

The ship stopped at Gibraltar on its way - as well as on its way back - and included a short description of Gibraltar as well as several photographs of the Prince carrying out several rather tedious looking functions on the Rock.  

The entire passage on Gibraltar and all the relevant photos are shown bellow.
Arrival The third morning after leaving Portsmouth, the Renown anchored at Gibraltar. The "Rock" had put on gala dress, and the little fortress town welcomed the Prince joyfully when he came ashore at Ragged Staff. East and West met in the narrow main street through which he drove to Government House, Grave Moors from the African coast; Spaniards from beyond the wire-bound frontier at Linea, and from Algeciras, across the bay, hardy sailor men from the merchant ships in harbour; nuns, dockyard hands, Hindu merchants, and priests mingled with the garrison folk and sounded the first note of an ovation that was to take him half-way round the world and back. 

Taken from HMS Renown on a later visit in 1927
The tall buildings in the high street were masked with gay tapestries and carpets of vivid hues draped Spanish fashion from the window ledges, whence eager faces peered at the little procession below. The Prince saw it all with an appreciative eye, but the leaven of khaki that is the real foundation of the "Rock" held his gaze longest. Here were old comrades of the Western front, the fourth battalion of the "Die Hards" of Middlesex, of which he is colonel-in-chief, lately arrived at this gateway to the East. They were his guard of honour for the day, and the fact pleased him greatly. 
He met them first at the jetty and again in the afternoon when he inspected the battalion at Buena Vista barracks. The day was spent informally with the varied population of Gibraltar. He received addresses from the Exchange Committee, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Workers' Union. The school children, boy scouts, girl guides, and police were inspected at Alameda parade ground . . .


 . . .and a garden party at Government House brought his Royal Highness in touch with other elements of the community. 


He found time to inspect the oil tanks and the entrance to the Admiralty Tunnel at Monkey's Quarry. In the evening he gave a dinner party on board. When the Renown left the inner anchorage at 10 pm with the Calypso, her escorting cruiser, showing the way to sea, the last view of Gibraltar was very beautiful. All the warships in harbour were festooned with lights and the buildings huddled on the lower slope of the "Rock" made a prodigal display of electric lamps. As the Prince's battle cruiser headed for the Mediterranean, the long harbour walls burst into flame. 
Red, white, and blue flares, swung by well-trained dockyard hands, signalled farewell in rapid changes of colour combinations, while the rugged outline of the "sleeping lion" - the crest of the fortress as seen against the sky - awoke in the darkness under the white glare of searchlights. 

The Graphic Magazine of November 12th 1921 also published a long artcle fully illustrated by Donald Maxwell who was on board the Renown at the time.






Haile Selassie

In 1936, Haile Selassie I - King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of Judah, Elect of God, the Light of the World . .  and Emperor of Ethiopia - visited Gibraltar. He was on his way to exile in the UK after his country was annexed by Mussolini in 1936. From the photos it would seem that the authorities in Gibraltar did not know either what to do with him or what to make of him. 




Arriving at the Rock Hotel


With Detective Inspector Gilbert in Attendence 


After 1945, visits resumed as normal and Gibraltar's fascination with British Royalty continued unabated to this day. 

Duke of Edinburgh









Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II visited Gibraltar on May 10, 1954. She was joined by Prince Philip and her children Prince Charles and Princess Anne, who were just four and three years old. It was Queen Elizabeth’s first and only visit to the Rock. Far too many photos of the occasion were taken to post here so I will limit these to just a few.












But the pomp and ceremony - the sheer power and majesty of the old days of Empire have gone and today a visit by Royalty will tend to generate the kind of enthusiasm that might be more appropriate to a visit by a popular television or film celebrity.


Kate Middleton aka Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge


See also:

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