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Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth, 99, carried out a great many royal visits abroad before the pair passed the baton to the younger royals. Their trips abroad often saw them follow a pretty busy schedule. In 1957, the Duke of Edinburgh and the monarch travelled to the USA.
“The pace was relentless,” said royal author Robert Hardman in his 2018 book Queen of the World. “
During a fifteen-hour visit to New York, the Queen managed to address the United Nations, attend a mayoral lunch for 1,500, an English Speaking Union dinner for 4,500 and a separate Commonwealth ball for 4,500,” Hardman said.
In Washington DC, one million people came out to welcome her and a state banquet was laid on at the White House by President Eisenhower and his wife.
Not all the royal couple’s activities on the visit were so luxurious and large-scale, however.
It was during this American trip that the Queen and Prince Philip experienced a life ‘first.’
Interestingly, it was something most Britons do on a regular basis – but not the Royal Family.
Hardman explained that the couple “paid their first visit to a supermarket.”
Although a chore for many people, Elizabeth saw a surprising positive to the shopping experience.
“‘How nice you can bring your children along,’ she told shoppers as she marvelled at the sight of a frozen food section,” wrote Hardman.
Not all the royals’ visits to North America went smoothly, however.
In 1969, the Duke of Edinburgh travelled to Canada without his wife and made the mistake of referring to the Royal Family’s finances at a time when this was of concern.
Royal author Sarah Bradford described the awkward episode in her book Queen Elizabeth II: Her Life in Our Time: “In an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Prince Philip announced that the monarchy was broke or about to be so.”
However, his concerns paled in comparison to those genuinely struggling financially.
The Duke said: “We go into the red next year, now, inevitably if nothing happens we shall have to – I don’t know, we may have to move into smaller premises…
“For instance, we had a small yacht which we had to sell, and I shall have to give up polo fairly soon…”
According to Bradford, what the Prince was saying was essentially true – but his words sparked objections.
“Prince Philip’s remarks ensured bombshell headlines: complaints from a rich man about having to give up luxuries like yachts and polo made the worst possible public impression.
“A group of dockers in a Bermondsey pub wrote sarcastically to the Prince offering to take up a collection to buy him a polo pony.
“Barbara Castle[Former First Secretary of State of the United Kingdom] recorded a general lack of sympathy for cries of poverty coming from the husband of ‘one of the richest women in the world,’ a phrase which was to have increasing resonance over the years.”
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