1947 – Royal Visit

Royal Visit

1947 Royal Family

In 1947 the British Royal Family embarked upon a world tour. It included an excursion to South Africa, Southern Rhodesia and Bechuanaland Protectorate. It was the first overseas state visit since the outbreak of war in 1939 and was celebrated with much pomp and fanfare. The young Princess Elizabeth also celebrated her 21st birthday during the tour.

South African Railways provided a newly built Royal Train, the Garratt locomotives of which were painted deep royal blue and which were used throughout the tour of Rhodesia. In total, there were three trains which travelled together. The Royal Party travelled in the White Train (the same used in the 1925 Prince of Wales and 1934 Prince George Royal Tours). A Pilot Train ran 30 minutes in front of the white train and carried lesser officials, press officials and servants. The Ghost Train followed the White Train carrying spare parts and maintenance gear.

The Royal Family flew into Salisbury from Pretoria, South Africa on 7th April in a Viking aircraft of the King’s Flight. They were received by Governor Sir John Kennedy and Prime Minister Sir Godfrey Higgins and driven to Government House where the King opened the Crown Colony’s single chamber Parliament.

On 10th April, the family boarded the Royal Train for a two day vacation at the Victoria Falls. Staying at the Victoria Falls Hotel over the Easter weekend. On 11th April 1947, the Royal Party visited Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia, crossing the river in the Hotel’s launch, Daphne. Flying the Royal Standard, the party sailed up to the Zambezi Boat Club on the northern bank, escorted upstream by the state barge of Barotseland Paramount Chief, Litunga Imwiko. The road from the river was resurfaced and re-named the Royal Mile in honour of the occasion. Several islands and special locations were named after the Royal visit.

They returned to Bulawayo on 14th April where the King received some survivors of the Pioneer Column. A visit was also made to the grave of Cecil Rhodes in the Matopos. They left on 17th April for Bechuanaland Protectorate.

Stamp Issues


Philatelic Items


Postmarks & Post Offices

  • King’s Flight
  • Official Free
  • Royal Tour Cachet


  • Geoff Brakspear
  • Terence Devine
  • Keith Harrop
  • James Gavin