Hampton Creer just stood at the front of the Centenary Centre theatre, no props, no slides, just a very gentle, quietly spoken Manxman, the whole audience entranced. More than this, Hampton’s humorous presentation of the articles in the Manx Sun newspaper of the two visits of the queen and Prince Albert in 1847 had the audience laughing from the outset.
Queen Victoria was travelling in the Royal Yacht to holiday in Scotland, accompanied by a squadron of naval vessels. The only information was that the monarch and party would ‘touch in’ to the island on Friday, August 13th. All the principal towns painted themselves up, hastily gathered choirs of children were rehearsed, speeches prepared and dignitaries poised for this great honour.
Ships were readied to sail out and meet the yacht, without any knowledge of where! All were roused early in the morning, lookouts posted and horses and carriages poised to rush to wherever. The day came and went. Nothing – they had been delayed by a great welcome in Wales! Disappointed, frustrated islanders went home, only to be told that she would be here on the16th. Once more, everything was made ready.
The Steam Packet had a ship poised off the Calf to intercept the Royal Squadron, spotting them seven miles off Douglas. A pilot was requested to complete the entry safely through the then dangerous rocky approaches. Captain Gill was transferred to the Royal Yacht and all went well with her anchoring just off shore.
The crowd went wild as the queen and family waved to them, before she sketched the scene, still acknowledging them.
Lt. Governor Hope raced up from Castletown, eventually being rowed out to the ship. However, when nearly there, the paddles started, churned up the sea leaving him disgraced! Bewildered Peel children were taken home, as were others, Island wide.
The process was repeated but in Ramsey, six weeks later at the end of the Scottish holiday. Once again, confusion! Messages were sent to Castletown to inform Governor Hope. His awaiting carriage and horses had been hi-jacked by a group of young bloods who galloped wildly to Ramsey.
Meanwhile, deemsters, the bishop and other worthies were rowed out to and received on the Royal yacht. They were there for several hours with a moored barge alongside plus band playing Manx music.
Only Prince Albert came ashore and conducted by a couple of locals up to where the Albert Tower now stands for a picnic. At their suggestion, then went for a royal walkabout, possibly the first in history.
Governor Hope arrived, flustered in a borrowed carriage. He was hastily rowed towards the yacht and, as Hampton said, “You’ve guessed it,” – the Queen commanded the paddles to turn, leaving him stranded for a second time – disgraced. He was nick named, ‘ Folorn Hope’. What a hilarious evening!
Next event – Manx Concert and Supper, 7.30pm, 6th July, Centenary Centre. Tickets from ‘Celtic Gold’ or ring 843502 or 844938