The day the Queen came to Campbeltown

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Down Memory Lane

As daylight hours decrease and wet and windy weather becomes our norm, some may think back fondly to warm summer days and memories of happy events

For one of the town’s senior residents, looking back to a summer 61 years ago brings special memories of the ‘not-to-be-forgotten’ visit of the young Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to Campbeltown.

George McMillan remembers the day well, having been elected to the Town Council the previous May. George reminisced: ‘It was announced at a Town Council meeting that the Royal couple was scheduled to visit. It was all to be top secret, but that didn’t happen. The next morning the “secret” was divulged in a queue in one of the town’s shops and the news was out.’

With a smile that showed how fond these memories are to him, George continued: ‘The Royal Yacht Britannia was anchored out in the loch and a small boat brought the Queen and Prince Philip to the quay where my father was delegated to catch and secure the rope. They were then driven to the Town Hall and there was a huge crowd present.

‘Campbeltown Gaelic Choir, conducted by Mr M G McCallum who was also a councillor, had a lovely surprise for the Royal visitors. Prince Charles had just been made Prince of Wales, so the choir sang ‘God Bless the Prince of Wales’. This was very well received, and the Queen said that she had not heard it before.’

George and Mrs McMillan were present at a reception given by the Town Council in the Town Hall. George remembers that he shook hands with the Queen and spoke with the Duke of Edinburgh. He said: ‘Only those invited could speak to the Queen, but the Duke moved among the gathering and spoke to some of the councillors. I was a coal miner at Machrihanish at that time and he asked me and some other miners about our work.’

He continued: ‘The food and drinks were served on silver trays by waiters in tails and bow-ties. Afterwards, when the couple was taken on a tour of the town, the heavens opened and oh how it rained and rained.’

A town councillor from May 1957 to its disbanding in 1975, and then a councillor on the District Council and the Strathclyde Regional Council, George was to meet the Queen and other members of the Royal Family on other occasions. Most notably, George received the MBE from Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace on December 6, 2001, ‘for services to the community in Campbeltown, Argyll and Bute.’


Maureen Keith, daughter of the Provost, handing over a bouquet to the Queen after the presentation ceremony. NO_C42memory01

The scene on Main Street, outside the Town Hall, as the Gaelic Choir sang ‘God Bless the prince of Wales.’ NO_C42memory02

Talking with the Duke is Mr A. MacKelvie, the Burgh Procurator and behind him, Mrs MacKelvie. NO_C42memory03

A charming smile from the Queen as she leaves the Town Hall, still carrying her bouquet, after the reception by Campbeltown Town Council. NO_C42memory04

George McMillan shows a photo taken in Buckingham Palace on the day he received an M.B.E from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. NO_C42memory05