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Maiden Visit of a Prince of Wales

The ongoing visit to the country by the Prince of Wales is a déjà vu. The first ever such a visit to our part of the world by a royalty of that stature and also by a Prince of Wales was on 12th April, 1925; the chief host at the time being Governor Gordon Guggisberg.

Such visits are expectedly laced with going to important places associated with the historical developments of the country.

The Prince was en route to South Africa. The Gold Coast trip though a stopover was elaborate, taking place at a time when Guggisberg was busy with his infrastructural development.

The announcement of the visit was made by Governor Gordon Guggisberg to the Legislative Assembly during his annual address to the august House. The news about the visit was received with great excitement by the people of the Gold Coast.

Elaborate arrangements were made by the governor especially since the Prince was scheduled to visit the hinterland during the trip. Nothing was to go wrong.

Expressing his delight in the opportunity offered him by the visit, Governor Guggisberg, the chief host, reportedly said: “The intense feeling of satisfaction with which the news has been received throughout the country that His Royal Highness The Prince Of Wales will pay a visit to the Gold Coast in April has been such as to show that the people are one and all conscious of the great honour conferred on them by His Majesty The King in permitting The Heir Apparent to visit His Majesty’s most loyal and affectionate colonies.”

The Prince was billed to arrive on 12th and leave on 16th April, 1925. And this was what one of the Gold Coast’s newspapers, ‘The Independent’ wrote about the visit: “Accra and indeed the whole of the colony is agog with excitement regarding the upcoming visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales”.

To enable many people have access to him, it was agreed that restrictions be dropped so that natives could meet him and vent their excitement over the visit.

A programme was drafted and sent to England for His Royal Highness’ approval. This was later given to the chief commissioners for Ashanti and Northern territories, provincial commissioners and the press, among others. The Chief Staff Officer toured the country to coordinate activities prior to the arrival of the Prince and to send copies of the proposed address from the various communities to the Private Secretary.

The time for the pre-arrival arrangements was short and so those involved in it all had hectic moments accomplishing their tasks.

The final programme detailing all the things to be done was sent to Sierra Leone by Lt. Col. R. H. Rowe. The Prince wanted to get in touch with the people so he had included in the programme games, especially horseracing.

The Gold Coast Regiment and Police, the Gold Coast Railway and Transport Department were among organizations which played significant roles in the Prince’s visit.

On Thursday, 9th April, 1925, the HMS Recluse dropped anchor off Takoradi and so began the visit of the Prince of Wales to the Gold Coast. He came ashore by a surf boat paddled by some local persons otherwise known as natives. He chose Takoradi for his disembarkation because he wanted to be the first to do so at the harbour whose breakwater was then under construction. Before his arrival, the notorious West African surf had washed away a portion of the breakwater.

The overcast sky made the hosts expectant of a fair weather.

Finally, at 2pm, HMS Recluse announced her arrival with the firing of her guns. A detachment of the Gold Coast Regiment ashore responded with the firing of musketry.

Dressed in a naval uniform, the Prince and his entourage landed on the temporary stage, thus achieving his aim of being the first to land at the Takoradi Harbour since its construction by Gordon Guggisberg.

He was received by his chief host, Governor Gordon Guggisberg, the Chief Staff Officer, Lt Col Bamford and others. The Prince himself presented the head of the household, Vice Admiral Sir Lionel Halsey.

The royal visitor insisted on seeing Takoradi without adornment which he did. In front of a temporary platform was a semi circle of spectators. Also lined up was a detachment of the Gold Coast Regiment’s B Company. Supporting them at their rear was the Gold Coast Police Band.

The Prince inspected a guard of honour mounted by a detachment of the Gold Coast Regiment under the command of Captain C.E. Hamilton. The Prince was said to have been fascinated by the smart turnout of the troops and their weapon drills. At the end of this segment of the programme, Lady Guggisberg and the Provincial Commissioner were introduced to the Prince after which he boarded his Lancaster car and proceeded.

At the observation kiosk erected on a 60-ft cliff overlooking the harbour, he had a good view of the works on the harbour with the assistance of the engineers.

He proceeded to the site of the new tower then under construction where under a canopied enclosure Governor Guggisberg stepped forward and said: “Your Royal Highness action in landing in roughs sea and ready fashion at a harbour which is still under construction is characteristic of the courtesy and kindness which Your Royal Highness’ Most Gracious Father shows towards his subjects and it’s one that will long be remembered in the Gold Coast.”

The Prince after the kind words proceeded to unveil the plaque and named it ‘The Prince of Wales Tower’ then headed for Sekondi.

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