Memories of The Queen’s 1959 Trip Through the Straits of Mackinac; And a Secret
With the news of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday, a flood of memories and reminiscences came forth from all over the world, but there’s a historic trip in 1959 that the Queen made that involves Michigan, and also a secret the Queen had that she couldn’t tell anyone.
In the summer of 1959, the Queen and Prince Phillip were on their way to Chicago by boat. Okay, more than a boat, it was the Royal Yacht HMY Britannia. The 15,000 mile, 45-day trip involved four of the Great Lakes, but more importantly, it involved the St. Lawrence Seaway. Ahead of passing through the Straits, the Queen and President Dwight Eisenhower christened the Seaway, which connected the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. The trip also involved visited all the Canadian provinces, including a stop in Windsor, Ontario followed by the trip through the Straits of Mackinac, past the then less-than two-year-old Mackinac Bridge, and onto Lake Michigan to Chicago.
It was early July, and fog enshrouded the area, making it hard to see anything well for the thousands who lined the area to get a glimpse of the craft and maybe of the Royals. According to a newspaper clipping, the fog lifted just enough for the crowds to get a quick glimpse of the yacht and the two destroyers accompanying it, one Canadian, one American. And similar to a presidential visit, traffic had to be stopped off the bridge. (Though some people still ran out on foot, and threw coins off the bridge or spat.)
(British Pathe via YouTube)
The Royals arrived in Chicago on July 6th to make their only American stop on the tour, but the Queen had a secret she couldn’t share. At least, not quite yet. She was pregnant with her third child, Andrew.