Exhibition focuses on Queen’s visit to Seychelles 40 years ago


Guests viewing the exhibition

The exhibition was held on Monday on the premises of the Supreme Court.

The Queen, the only other British monarch to have lived to celebrate 60 years on the throne -- besides her great great-grandmother, Queen Victoria -- arrived in Seychelles on June 4, 1972 aboard her royal yacht Britannia with her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. The highlight of the visit was her inauguration of the Seychelles International Airport.

Monday’s exhibition, mounted by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, had photos of the  royal couple also touring the Mission Lodge at Sans Souci, in walkabouts at Port Glaud and Anse Boileau and a luncheon picnic at Port Launay.

They were accompanied at most sites by the then Chief Minister James Mancham.

The royal couple also visited the newly built Reef Hotel and met local dignitaries of the time, notably members of the legislative assembly, including France Albert Rene, the Chief Justice, Sir Georges Souyave, and the Catholic Bishop of Port Victoria, Mgr Olivier Maradan.

After the day’s visit, the Britannia with the royal couple set sail into the sunset, escorted by the British warship HMS Arethusa.

During Monday’s event, a primary school choir, accompanied by the versatile Georges Payet and his brothers sang, Testify to love and Dancing Queen to welcome the guests to the exhibition, who included ministers, members of the diplomatic corps, church leaders and members of the National Assembly.

British high commissioner Mathew Forbes hailed the fact that Seychelles was joining with so many countries around the world to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

He noted that it was in 1952 that the then Princess Elizabeth acceded to the throne, after the death of her father, the late George V1.

Mr Forbes said that the ties between Seychelles and Great Britain have always been strong. As recently as 2010, the islands were honoured by the visit of Princess Anne who, with President James Michel, inaugurated the University of Seychelles.

Prince William and his bride, Kate Middleton, also chose the Seychelles twice for vacations, including their honeymoon last year on North Island.

Mr Forbes also noted that the special relations were again underlined when President Michel was received earlier this year in London as guest of the British Government, by Prime Minister David Cameron at an international conference focussing on piracy in the Indian Ocean.

Tourism and Culture minister Alain St Ange said the Queen’s diamond jubilee carries much historical significance as “down memory lane” we also recall the British monarch’s visit to our islands in 1972.

He said the location of the exhibition could not be more fitting, next to the statue of Queen Victoria, after which our little capital is named and with the Clock Tower, one of  Seychelles’ most attractive landmarks in the background.

Also symbolical is the fact that the Clock Tower, “our little Big Ben”, the setting of so many souvenir photos by visitors, was erected in 1903 when Seychelles became a crown colony in its own right -- being separated from Mauritius.

Mr St Ange noted that having been under British administration for 162 years, British influence has persisted beyond independence in 1976.  He remarked for instance that English is widely used as an official language and is the medium of instruction in schools as being the language of the judiciary.

Motorists in Seychelles, like in the UK, still drive on the left side of the road.

Mr St Ange also welcomed Britain’s assistance to Seychelles in combating piracy in the Indian Ocean and in environmental conservation.

In tourism, Mr St Ange said Seychelles continues to be well-known in the UK as a vacation centre, though visitor arrivals are down. 

He also noted that the popular Prince William and bride Kate Middleton have chosen Seychelles twice for special vacations.