As the world mourns the death of death of Queen Elizabeth II, an icon recognisable to billions of people around the world, who died on Thursday, Sierraloaded take a look back to when she visited the republic of Sierra Leone in 1961.

The late Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, visited Sierra Leone from 25th November to 1st December 1961, few months after gaining independence (in April).

They arrived in Freetown on the royal yacht Britannia, and Queen Elizabeth II Quay was so-named as a result.

Elizabeth II was welcomed as the queen of Sierra Leone and she also used a distinct Sierra Leonean flag. Colloquially, she was referred to as Mama Queen II by the people of Sierra Leone.

She was given a gold key to the city of Freetown by its mayor, who wore red robes and a cocked hat. The Queen and her husband stayed at the governor-general’s residence during their visit.

The monarch also presented new colours to the Royal Sierra Leone Regiment at the Brookfields Stadium. The new Queen’s Colour incorporated the new flag of Sierra Leone. The new colours, placed upon piled drums, were blessed by the imam of the Muslim Congress – “In thy holy name, O Allah, most gracious, most merciful” – by the Roman Catholic bishop of Freetown and Bo, by the president of the United Christian Council and by the Anglican bishop of Freetown.

In Bo, a durbar of paramount chiefs was held for the Queen at the Bo Coronation field, where chiefs and their “Devil Dancers” performed for the royal couple.[45][46] Each paramount chief was presented to the monarch and awarded a commemorative medal.

The Queen and the Duke toured several places and attended a number of events, including the Bo Hospital, an agricultural show in Kenema, the iron ore in Marampa, the Sierra Leone Press and Radio, a civic reception by the Freetown City Council, a gathering of chiefs and people at Port Loko, and the Children’s Rally and Citizens’ Parade in Freetown.

In honour of the royal visit, an entire model village was laid out, so that the Queen could see how some of the people of Sierra Leone live in villages. She and her husband also attended a divine service at the St. George’s Cathedral in Freetown, where they were received by the Bishop of Sierra Leone. The Duke of Edinburgh also visited the Guma Valley, where a dam was being built. At the University of Sierra Leone, Queen Elizabeth II, being the visitor of the university, presented degrees to students, accompanied by her husband and the prime minister.

It gives great satisfaction to me and to my husband that we should be able to visit Sierra Leone at this historic stage in its development. It has been a great pleasure to see for ourselves its beauty and to meet so many of its peoples.

At a dinner banquet, Prime Minister Milton Margai addressed the Queen and said, “your visit means above everything else that you are more to us than a distant Head of the Commonwealth. You are indeed Our Queen and we have a special claim on your interest, sympathy and affection”.

The Queen, speaking of Prime Minister Milton Margai, said, “Sierra Leone can count herself truly fortunate, but while gaining her independence, she has found a leader wise, experienced and devoted to her people”. In Freetown, she visited the Parliament of Sierra Leone, where she received a loyal address.

At the end of the tour, a garden party was given by Margai at his official residence. During her departure from Sierra Leone, the Queen was presented with an indigenous Sierra Leonean diamond by Margai, as a farewell gift.

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