This film is part of Free

The Royal Tour of the Caribbean

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh tour the West Indies in February 1966.

Documentary 1966 29 mins


To mark Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee the Earl and Countess of Wessex undertook a tour of the West Indies from 21 February to 7 March 2012; forty six years earlier the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh undertook an official visit to the region in February 1966, as documented in this film. Buckingham Palace announced the Royal Tour of the Caribbean on 26th July 1965. The destinations on this month long excursion included: British Guiana; Trinidad and Tobago; Grenada; St. Vincent; Barbados; St. Lucia; Dominica; Montserrat; Antigua; St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla; Tortola (Virgin Islands); the Bahamas; Jamaica. Government records show that by November 1965 twenty-five related articles had been released and many others were in the pipeline. Publicity for the trip included the re-printing of the pamphlet, Monarchy In Britain, pitched at Commonwealth countries like Canada, who seemingly had an unquenchable thirst for news of their Sovereign.

This rich and detailed Technicolor travelogue was the only film authorised by the Palace. Despite the demand for promotional materials the charter ship to transport and accommodate a press party was cancelled in December due to low interest. The royal spokesman stated in correspondence that: ‘a firm commitment in respect of places on the proposed charter vessel was so small the project is no longer a financial possibility’; the film crew were thus given passage by naval ships escorting the royal yacht Britannia. Strict instructions were given prior to the production being given the green light, most notably that the royals could only be filmed when ‘engaged in a public function’. Unlike the more relaxed footage or interviews you might see with the royals now the film is visually very official in tone The film’s sponsors - the Foreign Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office - were at the time separate entities but they began to merge in 1966 becoming the Foreign and Commonwealth office in 1968. They desired two versions: a longer and a shorter version. The shorter was entitled Caribbean Welcome. The idea was to produce two variants that could be sent to different territories, both would be comprised of much the same footage but the commentary was written in such a way that sequences could easily be omitted. In initial meetings about the production the use of montage to shorten lengthier sequences was advocated but that technique does not appear to have been used in the longer version featured here.