In today’s episode of This Day in Miami History, we remember the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Miami. Her one-day stop was a whirlwind of action, and provided unique insight into how a Queen operates.

Video: The Queen in the USA with Bill Neely – ITN Archive

Elizabeth R: A Year in the Life of the Queen – video Dailymotion

Wolfson Archives | MDC Archives | Miami Dade College

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[00;00;00;10 – 00;00;09;07] Matthew Bunch: Earlier this month, the world saw a celebration nearly three quarters of a century in the making. The coronation of King Charles III.

[00;00;09;09 – 00;00;13;11] Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury: God save the King!

[00;00;13;14 – 00;00;21;06] The Choir of Westminster Abbey: ♪ “Zadok the Priest” by George Frideric Handel ♪

[00;00;21;09 – 00;00;53;23] Matthew Bunch: The coronation as a unique spectacle of government and religion in the United Kingdom. Its elements date back more than a millennium. Its more modern version in 2023 featured a service at Westminster Abbey, ceremonial waving from the balcony of Buckingham Palace and a concert that featured Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Miami-Dade County resident Andrea Bocelli. The problem for us, however, is Charles really doesn’t have much of a connection to Miami at all.

[00;00;53;25 – 00;01;05;03] Matthew Bunch: In fact, the two closest connections I can find is: One virtual one, when he spoke to the Chief Sustainability Officer Summit of 2021, hosted by the University of Miami.

[00;01;05;04 – 00;01;16;22] King Charles III: Ladies and gentlemen, I’m delighted to have been invited to speak at the CSO annual summit hosted by the Miami Herbert Business School at the University of Miami.

[00;01;16;24 – 00;01;45;15] Matthew Bunch: And one in-person close call when then-Prince Charles met with a 2-year-old orangutan named Ray from Monkey Jungle in Miami. Now, he was able to meet with the primate from Monkey Jungle because Prince Charles was in South Florida. He was just a little bit north in Palm Beach and Indian River. Prince Charles enjoyed time in Palm Beach County for one main reason: ponies and polo.

[00;01;45;17 – 00;01;59;05] Ken Reese, ITV: The prince mopped his brow. His team had won a hard polo match, and he was rewarded with a porcelain pony and a kiss from his wife. Ken Reese, News at One, Palm Beach.

[00;01;59;07 – 00;02;12;06] Matthew Bunch: So why am I talking about King Charles at all? Well, because unless you have some sort of legitimacy crisis, the only way you get one new king is the death of an old king or queen.

[00;02;12;09 – 00;02;27;12] Huw Edwards: This is BBC News from London. Buckingham Palace has announced the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. In a statement, the palace said the Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.

[00;02;27;14 – 00;02;56;20] Matthew Bunch: That announcement on September 8, 2022, began the reign of Charles the Third. And Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth did have a South Florida connection, one that we will be exploring today. This Day in Miami History: May 17, 1991, the day that Queen Elizabeth II visited Miami and other parts of South Florida, too.

[00;02;56;25 – 00;03;15;29] King Elizabeth: ♪ “Miami Sunrise” by King Elizabeth ♪

[00;03;16;01 – 00;03;44;25] Matthew Bunch: Now, technically, Elizabeth Windsor wasn’t the first head royal to spend time in Miami. Her uncle, then the Duke of Windsor and formerly King Edward VIII, visited Miami in 1940 so that his wife, Wallis Simpson, could get dental surgery. He and his wife were stationed in the Bahamas for most of World War II after he abdicated the throne in order to marry the American socialite from Baltimore.

[00;03;44;28 – 00;04;08;04] Duke of Windsor: Naturally, very glad to set foot in America again, although it is pretty tough on her to have to undergo a dental operation the first time she returned to her native land after so many years. However, we hope that she will get well quickly and that we shall be able to enjoy a few days rest and quiet, see something of Miami and Florida before we go back to the Bahamas.

[00;04;08;11 – 00;04;38;03] Matthew Bunch: And while Queen Elizabeth wouldn’t visit South Florida until the 1990s, her husband, Prince Philip, actually visited decades before. In 1966, he spent time in Miami in support of a charitable cause. The International Variety clubs, now known as Variety, the Children’s Charity, were designed to raise funds and support the care of sick and needy children in communities across the United States and eventually around the world.

[00;04;38;06 – 00;05;10;08] Matthew Bunch: In particular, Prince Philip was involved in bringing Variety Clubs to the United Kingdom, and in 1966, he visited Variety Children’s Hospital just west of Coral Gables. What’s now known as Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, one of the foremost hospitals in pediatric care in America. After visiting with patients at the hospital, a 700-person banquet at the Fontainebleau Hotel raised $250,000 for Variety children’s hospital. Not bad for 24 hours of work.

[00;05;10;11 – 00;06;09;12] Matthew Bunch: As Head Royal, Queen Elizabeth II made seven official state visits to the United States. The most common stop was Washington, D.C., for obvious reasons, and each state visit would usually have a large city alongside that D.C. visit, like Chicago or New York. There would also be visits to places of particular historical significance to the United States, like Jamestown or Williamsburg, Virginia. Finally, these state visits would often feature side trips to locations that were significant to the president in office at the time. For example, in 1983, President Ronald Reagan hosted Queen Elizabeth II and provided a rather extensive tour of California, his home state, featuring visits to cities like San Diego, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, Sierra Madre, Duarte, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Sacramento, Stanford, Palo Alto and Yosemite.

[00;06;09;15 – 00;06;36;15] Matthew Bunch: The visit in 1991, when then-President George H.W. Bush served as host, combined a little bit of categories one, two and three. And Miami was the benefactor. The 1991 trip would consist of Washington, D.C., as well as Arlington, Virginia, and Baltimore for an Orioles baseball game. A visit to the Bush’s adopted home state of Texas and a stop in Miami.

[00;06;36;19 – 00;06;51;19] Dwight Lauderdale, WPLG Local 10: Just before to this afternoon, a chartered Concorde carrying the royal entourage touched down at Miami International Airport. And at the stroke of two, Her Majesty and Prince Phillip emerged from the jet. She was welcomed to the Sunshine State by Governor Lawton Chiles and Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez.

[00;06;51;22 – 00;07;21;10] Matthew Bunch: That, of course, WPLG’s Dwight Lauderdale describing the scene at Miami International. It was not as ornate of a welcome as Pope John Paul II had received in 1987. The Queen had a very tight schedule, and she was only going to be in Miami for a short period of time. Her first stop? Booker T Washington Middle School in Overtown. She was given a tour of the school by students and then was treated to a performance by the middle school band.

[00;07;21;12 – 00;07;50;22] Matthew Bunch: The visit was not without controversy. Queen Elizabeth II came about a year after the City of Miami and South Florida in general had rather botched the visit of Nelson Mandela to South Florida, sparking controversy and a boycott among black Miamians. Boycott Miami activists, including Billy Hardiman, made it very clear that they did not love the double standard between Queen Elizabeth II and the man who would become president of South Africa.

[00;07;50;25 – 00;08;00;09] Billy Hardiman: We are trying to let the city know that they spent money for the Queen, which maybe she deserves. But we think our king Mandela deserves the same type of protocol, nothing less.

[00;08;00;14 – 00;08;21;12] Matthew Bunch: The protests were noted, but the most contentious part of the queen’s visit didn’t do with relations with Black Americans. It dealt more with the Queen and England’s relationship with Ireland. Large protests could be seen in Baltimore and other parts of the country, and there was even a small outpost of Irish-Americans protesting along Biscayne Boulevard.

[00;08;21;15 – 00;08;24;29] Protestor: We call upon the Queen of England to speak up for justice.

[00;08;25;02 – 00;08;35;10] Louis Aguirre, WPLG Local 10: But others had a different agenda and took advantage of the Queen’s visit to get a message across. Protesting on Biscayne Boulevard against the 21 years of British presence in Northern Ireland.

[00;08;35;12 – 00;09;03;02] Matthew Bunch: There were two other major events on the Queen’s schedule that day. The first one, a visit to Vizcaya, a classic for any high-profile figure visiting South Florida. However, the visit was interrupted by rain. There was an exchange of gifts, but the Queen didn’t spend too much time at the beautiful mansion on Biscayne Bay. The showpiece event, however, was an evening reception aboard the yacht Britannia.

[00;09;03;04 – 00;09;08;14] Matthew Bunch: Even traveling to the yacht from Vizcaya would be its own kind of royal show.

[00;09;08;18 – 00;09;43;17] Terri Merryman, WPLG Local 10: The Queen and, of course, the Duke of Edinburgh boarded the royal barge, which is really a 40-foot launch at Vizcaya. She was accompanied, of course, by 35 of her entourage. The barge made its way along South Bayshore Drive. Bicentennial Park is one of the few chances that Miamians had of seeing Her Majesty if they were to look very, very closely. Of course, as you mentioned, they were trying to outrun that bad weather that was headed this way. A 21-gun salute from the Amistad, a boat that was, of course, sent here to guard the Britannia, signaled the queen was about to board the Britannia. Now, once onboard, she will rest and prepare for her dinner on the big night ahead.

[00;09;43;18 – 00;09;52;07] Matthew Bunch: As you can imagine, the dinner wasn’t any quiet affair. It was one of the biggest social events Miami had seen in many a year.

[00;09;52;09 – 00;10;14;02] Terri Merryman, WPLG Local 10: Former President Reagan and his wife, Nancy, were joined by another former president, Gerald Ford, and his wife, Betty. Florida’s political leaders were well-represented, too. Governor Lawton Chiles, Senator Bob Graham, Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez and Metro-Dade Mayor Steve Clarke were among the select few. Miami Archbishop Edward McCarthy was aboard for a special evening with the Queen.

[00;10;14;05 – 00;10;35;04] Matthew Bunch: Local Miami news didn’t have cameras on board the Britannia, so it was impossible for them to know at the time what exactly was going on. They knew who the cast of characters were, and they knew the dinner menu that night. However, nothing much else was known about the discussions on board the ship, and there was no reason to think that was going to change.

[00;10;35;07 – 00;11;02;16] Matthew Bunch: Except there’s one small factor. One thing that gives us incredible insight into some of the conversations that night, a project that wouldn’t be released for almost another year, and a project that probably most Miamians were never even aware of. Documentarian Edward Mirzoeff was working on a project, a film entitled “Elizabeth R: A Year in the Life of the Queen.”

[00;11;02;19 – 00;11;33;01] Matthew Bunch: It would eventually be released on the BBC in 1992, but clips — intimate moments — from this 1991 trip were featured as part of the documentary. “Elizabeth R,” the first officially approved documentary about the British monarchy since “Royal Family” in 1969, followed the Queen for most of 1991. It was made to mark the Queen’s Ruby Jubilee, which is her 40th anniversary on the throne.

[00;11;33;03 – 00;11;58;26] Matthew Bunch: Considering it was approved by the Royal Family, you can imagine it’s not the most negative approach towards the Windsors. However, it is a really interesting look at the Queen at a cocktail party. First off, you get to hear the Queen essentially running the show asking about what is available from the wait staff. You’ll note here she’s asking for coffee, not just for any old person, but for former President Ronald Reagan.

[00;11;58;28 – 00;12;13;11] Queen Elizabeth II: Do you have any decaffeinated coffee? Coming! I mean, I you know, where where we you know, we do, we try our best. It’s coming!

[00;12;13;11 – 00;12;28;21] Matthew Bunch: Another great moment that actually doesn’t involve the Queen at all, features former President Gerald Ford talking with a British guest about a knee joint replacement he had had the year before and the difficulty that it created when trying to travel.

[00;12;28;23 – 00;12;36;15] Gerald Ford: It’s amazing how much metal they put in. I have to carry a card to get through the airport security.

[00;12;36;18 – 00;12;42;12] British Official: So yours sets it off? Mine must be deep seated because mine doesn’t set it off.

[00;12;42;15 – 00;13;00;29] Matthew Bunch: A familiar local voice also appeared in the documentary. As Archbishop Edward McCarthy mentioned in conversation, the similarities between the Queen’s visit in 1991 and that of Pope John Paul II in 1987 that we referenced in an earlier episode. The common trait, of course, was rain.

[00;13;01;02 – 00;13;12;18] Archbishop Edward McCarthy: I’m finding great comfort in the fact that even though it rained on the Queen today, it actually rained on the Pope when he was in Miami, too. So we’re constantly showing our blessings on people by raining on them.

[00;13;12;20 – 00;13;35;10] Matthew Bunch: Perhaps most illuminating was a conversation between the Queen and Reagan about social services and how they have impacted Western democracies. Some useful context: This conversation is about four months after the resignation of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Thatcher, a close ally to Reagan and the Queen’s prime minister for more than a decade.

[00;13;35;12 – 00;13;51;27] Queen Elizabeth II: You see all the democracies are bankrupt now because, you know, because of the way that the services have been planned, for people to grab.

[00;13;51;29 – 00;13;56;14] Ronald Reagan: I know we tried to get some of these things changed and reduce them.

[00;13;56;17 – 00;14;18;01] Matthew Bunch: And with that, the queen’s time in Miami came to an end. The Royal Marines Band performed Beat Retreat and Her Majesty’s yacht, Britannia, pulled away from Miami Harbor and sailed out into the Atlantic Ocean, heading for Tampa. There was a little bit more South Florida fun to be had before the stop on the Gulf Coast.

[00;14;18;04 – 00;14;45;11] Bill Neely, ITN: That was to one tiny island, 68 miles up the coast. But the Royal Party came to see Fort Jefferson. The Queen and Prince Phillip were certainly dressed for a tropical weekend. Their escorts, the U.S. Rangers, who now man this national monument. The rest of the weekend was spent away from the cameras with time to meander among the islands, picnic on the beach and swim in the warm seas.

[00;14;45;13 – 00;15;07;11] Matthew Bunch: It was truly a whirlwind day in the Magic City. The queen stayed less than 24 hours, arriving on a Concorde and departing on a yacht. But it was unquestionably a moment for the city to remember: The head of state of the United Kingdom and a coronated queen visiting Miami, Florida.

[00;15;07;14 – 00;15;11;25] Matthew Bunch: As always, I want to give thanks to the sources that were really essential in the production of this episode.

[00;15;11;26 – 00;15;31;18] Matthew Bunch: First off, the old friends at and The New York Times’ Times Machine. It’s actually very helpful in digging into some of the information about Prince Philip’s 1966 visit. I also will let you know about a couple of good video resources that I found that were really essential. First off, Wolfson Archive. I shout them out every episode.

[00;15;31;20 – 00;15;59;10] Matthew Bunch: Really do go and check it out. There are two really good, important British film pieces that I used. First off, the film I mentioned in the course of the episode “Elizabeth R.” You can find that if you just Google “Elizabeth R 1991 documentary” and you’ll find a link to that on Vimeo. Additionally, there is a TV program produced by ITN and hosted by Bill Neely called “The Queen in the USA. ”

[00;15;59;13 – 00;16;29;26] Matthew Bunch: That is where I was able to get some additional information about the visit. And yeah, just some great background about the Queen and that 1991 stopover in Florida. I do want to give a quick acknowledgment to something that I’ve shared on social media, but not in the any episode yet. And that is the fact that This Day in Miami History was recognized by the Florida Historical Society with the 2023 Hampton Dunn Digital Media Award.

[00;16;29;28 – 00;16;56;06] Matthew Bunch: I will actually be collecting that award at their annual public history gathering in Lakeland, Florida, on Thursday the 18th. So when you’re listening to this, I might actually be there. I do want to thank them for acknowledging the work they were able to do the year. And of course, I want to thank you, the listener, for being so encouraging and supportive of this project.

[00;16;56;07 – 00;17;35;11] Matthew Bunch: It really wouldn’t be anything without a strong listener base to deliver great episodes to each month. Hopefully they’re great episodes. As always, if you have any feedback, you can contact me or on our social media accounts @ThisDayMiamiPod on Twitter and Instagram. Great feedback on Instagram recently and really appreciating folks there. And as always on Twitter, I know a lot of longtime listeners found the show there. You can also find us at This Day in Miami History on Facebook and on Mastodon. So without further ado, as always, thank you for listening. Look forward to talking to you again next month. And until then, I’ve been Matthew Bunch.

[00;17;35;14 – 00;17;51;01] King Elizabeth: ♪ “Miami Sunrise” by King Elizabeth ♪

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