This film is part of Free

A State Visit to Turkey of Queen Elizabeth II

The Queen’s seven day tour of Turkey in October 1971 was the first British royal visit to the country since King Edward VIII visited the region in September 1936, three months before he abdicated.

Documentary 1971 24 mins


Britain and Turkey had not always enjoyed the ‘special’ friendship referred to in the commentary. Their armies were on opposing sides in the First World War and there had been disagreementt over the future of Cyprus in the run up to the settlement of 1960. In the 1960s relations improved and this reciprocal tour (the President of Turkey, Cevdet Sunay, had paid a state visit to the United Kingdom in November 1967) was regarded as a milestone in the bilateral alliance between the two countries.

The camera affords the viewer a prime vantage point by which to marvel at the splendour of the pageantry and contemplate every nuance of gesture and sartorial detail. As we linger on the bejewelled Queen waiting patiently at the British Embassy in Ankara to greet her guests we wonder what it might be like to be in her shoes. The commentary refers to the recent earthquakes. Since 1966 earthquakes had claimed the lives of nearly 4000 Turkish citizens. But the veneer of gold and glitter insulates the viewer from the underlying political tremors that Turkey was facing at the time. Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel’s Justice Party had been ousted by a military coup in March 1971; Kurdish separatism had intensified; and there had been a series of bomb plots by left-wing activists. As the Queen, Prince Philip and Princess Anne, are paraded through the streets of Ankara in an open-topped car the rapturous faces of the crowds betray no sign that their city was under martial law. The film is as much a travelogue as a record of a state visit in that it showcases some of the most impressive sights of Turkey - from Istanbul’s lavish Blue Mosque, to the ancient ruins of Ephesus through the breathtaking ‘fairy chimneys’ of Cappodoccia. The ‘friendship’ between the UK and Turkey remains strong. The UK is the second biggest importer of goods from Turkey, after Germany, and approximately two million Britons spend their summer holidays in Turkey every year.