Today In History: 11 February 1977 – Queen Elizabeth II Begins Silver Jubilee Pacific Tour with a One Day Visit to Samoa
The Silver Jubilee Pacific tour of Queen Elizabeth II began with a one-day visit to then Western Samoa on 11 February 1977.
Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip visited Samoa as part of a tour to Commonwealth countries. They arrived on the royal yacht HMS Brittania.
The occasion was marked by an exchange of honours between the Queen and Samoa’s Head of State, Malietoa Tanumafili II.
Documented records of the visit states “Malietoa was invested by the Queen with the Collar Badge and Star of the GCMG (Knight Grand Gross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George). He in turn conferred upon the Queen the Grand Order of Vailima, an honour specially created to mark the first visit by a reigning British monarch to Western Samoa”.
“Vailima is an apt symbol of the links between Samoa and Britain: the house bearing this name, at the foot of Mt Vaea outside Apia, is the residence of today’s Western Samoan Head of State, and was originally the home of the British writer, Robert Louis Stevenson when he lived and died in Samoa in the 1880s”.
There were fears the Queen would be not be received well in return for the cold shoulder suffered by Western Samoa’s Head of State when he was in Britian the year before. However in true FaaSamoa and Christian principles, the public welcome was recorded as, spontaneous and warm.
The only problems reported at the time pointed to the behavior of police under a newly-appointed Commissioner of Police, Sir Angus Shar.
There was alleged police brutality towards enthusiastic crowds at Mulinuu, and their repeated rough-housing and obstruction of the press including visiting press.
Her Majesty planted a memorial tree outside the Maota Fono (parliament building) in Apia.
Prince Philip is reported to have himself made a muted protest. “What a pity,” he said, in a remark meant to be over heard, “that they couldn’t be allowed to come forward to have a better look.”