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Unseen photographs of Queen’s Coronation visit to Northern Ireland

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A COLLECTION of newly published photographs of Queen Elizabeth II on her first state visit to Northern Ireland, have recently been made publicly available.

The pictures, which have been discovered by the British City of Culture’s BT Portrait of a City project, show the newly crowned monarch just after her Coronation in 1953.

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Following the Coronation at Westminster Abbey on June 2, the Queen made a three-day trip to Northern Ireland in July accompanied by her husband Prince Philip.

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The visit took her to Belfast, Lisburn and Ballymena before finally touring the north coast by rail.

In the last stretch of that journey she visited the port of Lisahally where she boarded the HMS Rocket for a 30-minute trip up the River Foyle into the centre of the city.

These images were captured by Royal Naval photographer Raymond White on the Queen’s arrival at Lisahally Docks as part of her visit to the city of Derry.

He recalls the moment when the pictures were taken.

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“I still remember that day at Lisahally really clearly it was frightening, let’s put it that way. In Lisahally we have the photographs where she gets on the specially made platform where she got off the train.

“She walked towards HMS Rocket and boarded it. Then the last one she was looking down from the Rocket and it’s me and I am the only one in front of her.”

White had been stationed at Eglinton just outside Derry from July 1951 to December 1953.

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His photographs of the Queen had not been seen by the public until he offered them to the BT Portrait of a City project. They had remained in his private collection for 60 years.

White reflects on the occasion, ““When I took the photo of the Queen standing right in front of me I remember thinking, ‘I wonder what I’ve got’. You don’t know. You take the picture and until it is developed you can’t say.

“The pictures were never published and never seen by the public. I kept them all in an album at home. What Derry has with these pictures now is something that will remain in history.

“The Mirror offered me £400 for the pictures I got that day for one picture. But it was Crown copyright reserved and I couldn’t have given them the pictures even if I had wanted to.”

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The images have now been digitised and feature in the BT Portrait of a City project, run by the Culture Company 2013, which aims to create the largest digital community archive ever assembled from one city.

Culture Company Chairman Martin Bradley highlighted the importance of the BT Portrait of a City programme after the discovery of these photographs on the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s visit.

“It is remarkable that these pictures of the Queen in our city have existed for so many years and no-one here has ever had the chance to see them before. Now that they have been added to the archive, they are freely available for everyone.

“These wonderful images are a treasure trove for lovers of history and paint a picture of a bygone era in our city.”

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These photographs are a welcome discovery for the city of Derry which became the winner of the first UK City of Culture title in 2013. The other shortlisted cities were Birmingham, Norwich and Sheffield.

Funded by institutions from both Northern Ireland and Britain, Derry promises a year-long cultural feast of music, dance, theatre, art and much more on the banks of the River Foyle.

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Nemesha Balasundaram
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Nemesha Balasundaram is a Reporter with The Irish Post. Follow her on Twitter @nemeshaB

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One comment on “Unseen photographs of Queen’s Coronation visit to Northern Ireland”

  1. liam o comain

    A Review By Canice Doherty
    Of-

    In Pursuit Of Peace In Ireland.

    The Memoirs and Thoughts
    Of An Irish Revolutionary Republican.

    By Liam Ó Comáin
    ~
    This review relates to a recent publication by a person who when we met was more reserved than other’s I have encountered who have experienced involvement in what has been termed ‘the troubles’ in the north of our island. The author is the Limavady poet, Liam Ó Comáin, who now resides in Derry City with his wife and family. Now, only recently meeting the author although aware of his existence this book is a valuable contribution to the history of the period and to the author’s central role in it.

    The author, was one of the leaders of the movement for what he alleges was revolutionary change in Ireland in the last 50 years of the 20th century leading into the early years of the present millennium. An ex-full time organiser for the Irish Republican Movement he as organiser was one of the founders of the Civil Rights Association and in later years the Irish National Chairperson of the Irish Republican Socialist Party. In the latter-The Irish Republican Socialist Movement- he also held the position of organiser.

    As a person of principle he strongly opposed the formation of the so-called ‘Provisional Republican Movement’. Being a strict adherent of allegiance to the all-Ireland Republic proclaimed in 1916 and declared in 1918. At present he is not associated with any political grouping.

    An ex-graduate of the University of Ulster he has published articles and books on mysticism, politics, pigeon racing, and poetry in-spite of health problems as he traverses his aging seventies.

    As for this book’s contents I discovered much re those decades, although my ear was close to the ground during them, that I was not aware of. In fact some aspects of this book’s contents are required to ensure that history as it happened will have to be corrected by some authors of the period written about. Now, although I am a nationalist and not a republican, having come through the period which the contents refer too I must emphasise the point that the author apparently provides the truth which others have twisted and neglected for one reason or another. Of course there are aspects that I question but I assume for legal reasons the author could not confirm further.

    In fact there are some startling revelations about the period and about some of the participants. There is no hold back in criticism re others of the political establishment in Ireland, north and south, including references to the Stormont Establishment and even America and the EU.

    As a believer in the contention that the basis of peace is justice the author strongly argues
    on behalf of the latter and is opposed to the concept that peace at any price is the way forward.

    An interesting contribution to the modern history of Ireland and the author concludes by offering the non- Catholic minority a blueprint of a possible way forward - a future which he believes
    is required for our peoples welfare and which could lay the basis for a more peaceful world.

    The book also includes a selection of poetry relating to the subject of republicanism.

    +

    In Pursuit Of Peace In Ireland

    (Priced: £13-30 Sterling and E16-90)

    is published by united P.C.publisher
    c/o Hamilton House,
    Mabledon Place,
    Bloomsbury,
    London, WC 1H 9BB,
    England.

    It can also be obtained from the publishers international internet site and other internet sites including ‘Amazon’ as well as book distributors and bookshops.

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