Memories of the Royals in Portsmouth in 1939

Thousands gathered in the Guildhall Square on May 6, 1939, to see George VI and Queen Elizabeth depart for Canada and the United States
Thousands gathered in the Guildhall Square on May 6, 1939, to see George VI and Queen Elizabeth depart for Canada and the United States
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Thousands gathered in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, on May 6, 1939 to see George VI and Queen Elizabeth depart for Canada and the United States.

They arrived on the royal train accompanied by the two princess, Elizabeth and Margaret.

A guard of honour from the 1st Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers assembled in the square and the route from the town station was lined by Royal Marines from Eastney Barracks.

The royal couple then went on to the dockyard where they embarked aboard the Empress of Australia.

They returned to England on June 22 less than three months before the outbreak of the Second World War.

It was the first visit of a reigning monarch to Canada, and also the first time a British monarch had set foot in the United States.

In 1985, during a tour of Canada, Queen Elizabeth, by then the Queen Mother, said in a speech:

‘It is now 46 years since I first came to this country with the King, in those anxious days shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.

‘I shall always look back upon that visit with feelings of affection and happiness.

‘I think I lost my heart to Canada and Canadians, and my feelings have not changed with the passage of time.’