Monday, 4 June 2012

Royal Visit to Emperor Napoleon's Last Home

Royal Family Arrving at Longwood House, 29 April 1947

At a time when the United Kingdom is celebrating the 60 year reign of Elizabeth II, Michel Martineau has published some little known photos of the Royal Family's visit to St Helena in 1947.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were accompanied by their two daughters, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.

Having looked round a dilapidated Longwood House almost destroyed by termites, the King signed the visitors book and expressed his concern at its perilous state and his hope that the French Government would take the necessary steps to restore the historic house.

On his return to England the King called in the French Ambassador and again expressed his hope that the French Government would urgently begin restoration of the house.


Hels said...

Great photos.

I wonder what the royal family were doing at Longwood House in 1947. If they thought of the island, and its Napoleonic history, as British, they would have began the urgent restoration of the house themselves. If Longwood House and surrounds belonged to the French, was there a representative of the French government/consulate on hand to meet the royals?

John Tyrrell said...

Clearly Longwood belongs to the French Government, and the British Government has no authority over it. I suspect that the Government of St Helena was rather surprised at the concern shown by the King; only recently have the authorities shown any appreciation of the significance of the properties associated with the captivity of Napoleon and of their importance to the future of St Helena. It is something of a miracle that Longwood House did not suffer the same fate as the Balcombes' house and New Longwood House, both of which were demolished after the war. The Briars Pavilion would have suffered the same fate also but for the intervention of Dame Mabel Brookes.

The French Consul on the island at the time was Georges Peugeot. I assume he was at Longwood to welcome the Royal Family, it could even be he in the second photo behind the Governor (who was in military uniform), but I cannot be sure. As far as I recall it was he who gave the name to "Frenchman's Turn" on Ladder Hill

- but that is another story!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Georges Peugeot entertained the Royal Family... and Yes he is the one who left behind his name to a dangerous road patch after an accident he had there...

John Tyrrell said...

Hi Michel. Thanks for your comments. I assume the second one overrides the first and that Peugeot was on the island when the Royal Family visited.

No chance of a photo of him I suppose!



Marco Vanzetti said...

What kind of car is that limo in the picture?

Cedric Downard said...

The vehicle in the picture is an Austin 12 - 1535 cc 4 cylinder side valve(year likely to be about 1946/7 as the model was discontinued after 1947). It was parked next to a cottage I rented in Jamestown when I spent a week there in 1997. The tires were flat and the car was caked in dust. I am now trying to dig out an old photo which I took off the car.

John Tyrrell said...

Many thanks for that information.

I wonder if the car is still there - there are a lot of old cars lying about on St Helena.

Anyway if you find the photo I would love to publish it on this blog.


Marco Vanzetti said...

Thank you for the information.
I have someone who would like to restore this vehicle.