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The Royal Visit by Eileen Clarke

About 1954
When the Huggins were in residence and owned the Silver Sands property, Jamaica was then still a British Colony with an English Governor.  The Governor was informed of the proposed visit of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.  They would land by plane in Montego Bay and proceed by car to Kings House (the Governor’s Residence) in the Kingston area.  This was about a 3 hour car journey and it was suggested that a suitable private luncheon stop be provided; the key word being PRIVATE.  The Huggins agreed to the conditions and that if they failed the arrangement would be canceled. 

They had several months in which to make all the arrangements, which began with sprucing up the road and the gardens.  Next they invited about 20 trustworthy friends to help with all the arrangements, provisions and actual luncheon for about 100 people.  My husband, Owen Clarke and I were among the friends invited to help.  He was put in charge of the bar, while my job was flowers and decorations.  Others were dealing with security, food and various supplies – the latter involving such things as large quantities of china, glassware, cutlery and towels.  As a “thank you” gift we were given some of these purchases afterwards:  I got some demitasse cups and saucers, dessert plates, menus and pictures, most of which were destroyed in the 1988 hurricane. 

I can’t remember how we decorated the cottage, bar, lunch table etc, but do recollect that they all looked lovely.  We started the day before, and a lot of the cooking was also finished that day so that we could be ready by 11am the day of.  It was a beautiful day but windy so when we heard that the entourage had left Mo Bay I went to the Queens’s Cottage to check on the flowers etc.  As I entered a large man emerged from the bedroom and enraged I snarled at him “What the heck are you doing in here?” whereupon, looking amused he presented me with a card from his pocket and replied “I might ask you the same thing Madame – I am from Scotland Yard (top notch British Secret Service)!”   Whereupon we both had a good laugh and checked the other cottages – The Duke’s, Governors’, ladies in waiting’s and equerries’.             

Soon the party arrived and were greeted by the Huggins and shown to their cottages.  Some decided to swim and others met on the patio.  Drinks were ordered and a minor panic ensued.  Owen had amassed every conceivable wine, liquor and soft drink he could think of and the Queen ordered fresh orange juice!!  Dismay!  Somehow they found a few oranges somewhere and managed with great composure to serve the Queen with her choice. 

At the luncheon only the Royals, the Governor and his wife were seated and served.  The rest had to help themselves from the buffet.  Kathleen Swaby served the Queen while I ostensibly served the Duke.  I was so busy admiring him that when we got to the buffet table I whispered to Kathleen that I didn’t know what he ordered!  Fortunately she did! 

From what I remember of the menu we had served Jamaican dishes including salt fish, ackees, roasting pig, yams, breadfruit, coconut jelly, guavas and baked bananas.  The Queen had ham, chicken and everything conservative while the Duke had pig and guavas.  All went well and after a brief rest the party left for Kingston. 

We all pitched in, tidying and washing up.  We then met in the bar to destroy what we could of the wine and liquor collection!  Owen and I set off for Worthy Park early as the next day was a busy one, ending with a ball at the Governor’s House for all the Jamaican big-wigs to meet the Royals.

All about Silver Sands.