Royal Tour: 1953 Queen Mother and Princess Margaret – Commemorative Covers

Royal Tour

1953 – Commemorative Covers


First Day Cover Commemorating the Royal Tour

Purple R Cachet
Black R Cachet

S.Rhodesia Royal Visit

Rhodes Centenary Exhibition

Golden Crown

Royal Tour: 1953 Queen Mother and Princess Margaret

Royal Tour

1953 Queen Mother and Princess Margaret

This Royal Tour was specifically scheduled to open the Rhodes Centenary Exhibition in Bulawayo, as well as the unveiling of the Fairbridge Memorial.  The tour was originally scheduled for Princess Elizabeth, but due to the King George VI’s death in February 1952 schedules were rearranged, with the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret attending instead.

On 30th June, 1953 the Royal Party set out from London on a trip to Southern Rhodesia in a Comet jet airliner which was part of the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) fleet.

The Comet touched down at about noon on the 1st of July at the newly established Salisbury Airport. The Royal Party was welcomed by Sir John Kennedy, the Governor of Southern Rhodesia.

The Royal Party travelled in three air-conditioned coaches that had been used for the 1947 Royal tour of South Africa. The coaches were fully equipped with bedrooms, dining coach and a lounge section, a bathroom with English bath crystals and soap tablets and a kitchen fully equipped with delicacies imported from England.

On 3 July the Royal Party arrived in Bulawayo, where they were met by Mayor Colonel C M Newman. The Queen Mother inspected a Guard of Honour drawn from the various units of the Southern Rhodesian Territorial Forces.

The Royal Party was then driven through the city on an 11-mile journey to the Government House. In the afternoon the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret motored to the Queen’s Ground where the Queen Mother officially opened the Rhodes Centenary Exhibition by pressing a button to open the gates to the Queen’s Ground.

Both the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret were presented with diamond and aluminum brooches fashioned like the flame lily. The brooches were in actual fact replicas of that given to the Queen by Southern Rhodesian school children on the occasion of her 21st birthday. The presents were presented by Colonel Sir Ellis Robins, the chairman of the Exhibition Board.

On 4 July the Royal Party undertook a second tour of the Exhibition. The Royal Party visited all the 18 countries’ pavilions. At each pavilion they were showered with gifts.

There was a mayoral garden party that had been laid out the citizens of Bulawayo.The party was held in the Bulawayo (Central) Park. There the Queen Mother met the widows of the Rhodesian pioneers. The occasion attracted no less than 10 000 people.

The Royal Party attended a divine service at St John’s Church where they were welcomed by the Bishop of Matabeleland and the Archdeacon, the Venerable E Addington Hunt. The service was followed by a visit to Barham Green Village, a recently developed housing estate for the native people.

In the evening there was an orchestral performance by the Halle Orchestra, conducted by Sir John Barbirolli, in the 3,000-seater Royal Theatre in the exhibition grounds. The Royal Theatre had been specially built for the Rhodes Centenary Exhibition.

The 5th of July had been designed as a day of rest. However, a considerable number of Rhodesians felt the Royal Tour would not be complete without a pilgrimage to Rhodes’ grave on Malindidzimu Hill within the Matobo Hills.  At the site, a Centenary Service was held. The 5 000 strong pilgrims clapped hands when the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret took their seats next to Rhodes’ grave.

Later the Royal Party made a courtesy call at Queen Mary House and St Gabriel’s Home. The next leg of the visit took the Royal Party to Luveve African Village. Upon arrival at Luveve the Queen Mother was welcomed by a brass band and singing and ululating African women with some of them having come from as far as the Belgian Congo.

The visit to Bulawayo ended on 6 July 1953 with a pageant in the Exhibition Park. In the evening the Royal Party left Bulawayo aboard the Royal Train to other Rhodesian destinations such as Gwelo, Que Que, Salisbury, Great Zimbabwe and Fort Victoria.



Philatelic Items

Post Office & Postmarks


  • Geoff Brakspear
  • Walter Herdzik
  • James Gavin
  • Terry Devine

Royal Tour: 1934 Prince George – Commercial Covers (NR)

Royal Tour

1934 – Commercial Covers (Northern Rhodesia)

Royal Tour: 1934 Prince George – Commercial Covers (SR)

Royal Tour

1934 – Commercial Covers (Southern Rhodesia)

1934 – Prince George Royal Tour

Prince George Royal Tour

21st March, 1934

Prince George, the Duke of Kent, toured Southern Rhodesia between 21st and 30th March, 1934.

He arrived in Bulawayo on 21st March and proceeded straight to Fort Victoria and Zimbabwe. On 24th March he was welcomed in Salisbury and visits followed to Umtali (26th March), Gwelo (27th March) and Bulawayo on the way back (29th March).

Good Friday (30th March) was spent at the Victoria Falls, from where he crossed into Northern Rhodesia. From Northern Rhodesia he went through the Belgian Congo to Lobito Bay to catch the Windsor Castle back to UK.


Post Office & Postmarks


  • Geoff Brakspear
  • James Gavin


Itinerary: 1925 Royal Tour


1925 Royal Tour


LocationArrival DateArrival TimeDeparture DateDeparture Tme
Fort Victoria

Central Estates02/07/192517:1505/07/192513:30
Central Estates05/07/192518:3006/07/192510:30
Que Que10/07/192512:3010/07/192513:30

Travelling Post Office: 1925 Royal Tour

Travelling Post Office

1925 Royal Tour

The Royal Train had its own Post Office, situated within a travelling post office van attached to a pilot train that kept ahead of the Royal Train by around 30 minutes. The post office was open 24 hours per day.

Approximately 9,000 articles (including Official Mail) were handled by the office, averaging 100 articles per day.

Postal Staff
  • C J Swift – Postmaster (Rhodesia)
  • Mr Harpham – Assistant
  • Mr Murrell – Assistant
  • Mr Cripham – Assistant


All mail on the Royal Train within was cancelled with the same canceller, no matter the country. The canceller was engraved by the Royal Mint.

A purple cachet was also applied in Southern Rhodesia between 3rd July and 16th July.

Philatelic Items

Royal Tour: 1925 Prince of Wales – Commemorative Covers

Royal Tour

1925 – Commemorative Covers

Royal Tour: 1925 Prince of Wales – Stationery

Royal Tour

1925 – Stationery

Royal Stationery

The Royal Stationery displays the official three red feathers of the Prince of Wales.

Other Stationery

Royal Tour: 1953 Queen Mother and Princess Margaret – First Day Covers

Royal Tour

1953 – First Day Covers


These covers were produced for the Southern Rhodesia Coronation, Rhodes Centenary Exhibition and Rhodes Centenary releases, but were stamped with the postmarks and cachets of the Royal Tour.

Rhodes Centenary Exhibition
1947 Royal Tour
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