Javascript is either disabled or not supported by this browser. This page may not appear properly.
Crossing the Line Ceremony of the Royal Family
en-route to South Africa onboard HMS Vanguard
10 February 1947
             Latitude 000° 00' longitude 090° 30' W.

          10th February, 1947

In strict accordance with the orders already published, the day's ceremonies opened with the parading of the " Royal Guard " on the starboard side of the Quarterdeck. It can be but seldom that so many persons of extraordinary physique and demeanour have been selected to provide a guard of honour.
Despite the complete disregard of uniformity in arms and accoutrements, a single word of command was able to bring the tops of their heads to a level which might have been obtained with a straight-edge. The band, a motley gathering of instrumentalists, took station on the right of the guard.

The Commander, the Midshipman of the Watch, and the Master-at-Arms stood ready to receive the visitors.  The preliminary proceedings were watched by the Royal Family from the superstructure overlooking the Quarterdeck. At exactly 0900 the long-awaited arrival ceremony commenced. The Royal Trumpeters arrived up from the afterhatch and took station, closely followed by the Police, who promptly cordoned off the area in which the inspection of the Royal Guard was to take place.

King Neptune and his Queen, Amphitrite, then appeared, heralded by a long and syncopated fanfare played by the trumpeters.  The rest of the Court followed the Royal Party on to the Quarterdeck, where the Bears at once commenced to make playful attempts to bite the spectators.  The Commander then welcomed King Neptune with the following turned phrases:-

"In my Captain's name, most honoured sire, I
                 welcome you on board,
  Together with your Royal Spouse, and all your
                 humid horde.
  I pray your Majesty inspect the Guard which we
                 have here paraded,
  And bring the Queen to cheer them up, for
                 they're a trifle jaded."

He then led Neptune and Amphitrite forward to inspect the Guard, which presented arms, while the band played "Popeye." Neptune was noticed to make several attempts to deflate the more rotund members with the points of his trident, while his Queen was not averse to making an occasional eye at one or other of these strapping fellows. After the inspection the Guard and Band marched off preceded by twelve of the Police, to the stirring strains of the "Conga," and the procession formed up as follows:-

     Clerk of the Court.
          Pirates, with Sea-chest.
          Neptune and Amphitrite, with Commander and Staff.
          Remainder of Police.

The procession was then led forward along the port side of the ship to the foc'sle, where the stage and bath were already rigged abreast " A" turret on the starboard side. Here the Court took up their appointed stations on the stage, while the Bears gathered around the baths.

The Clerk of the Court then announced:-

          "My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen. The Court of His Most Turbulent Majesty King Neptune is                          now in session."

Meanwhile the Captain was escorting the Royal Family to the scene of the proceedings. Immediately before reaching the stage His Majesty observed a stranded 24-inch manilla rope lying on the deck.

His Majesty          . "  Captain Agnew, what have we here?          It's in a sorry plight!"
Captain .          .       ''  Sir, that's the main brace."
His Majesty          . "  Then have it spliced."
Captain .          .       "  Aye, aye, Sir." (To the Boatswain)          " Splice the main brace."

The Boatswain piped and passed the word to splice the main brace, to the accompaniment of loud and prolonged cheering from the onlookers.

The Captain then mounted the platform with the Royal Party, who took their seats after being introduced to King Neptune. The Captain welcomed the Court in the following words:-

       "Your Majesty, My Ladies, My Lords and Gentlemen
          It is my pride and pleasure to welcome you again.
          I have a goodly company of passengers and crew,
          But the number whom you've met before you'll
              find extremely few.
          Our most important passengers are Britain's
              King and Queen,
          And their Daughters, two in number, whom we
              know you have not seen.
           So  now please take the Vanguard and all who
              travel in her,
           But let me have them back again in time to go
              to dinner."

To which King Neptune replied:-

                 "Accept our grateful thanks for the way we've been received, 
                   The joy of our Court, when they saw you approach, should be seen to be believed.
                    I have brought all my doctors and barbers and bears to apply the traditional rights,
                    So I'm sure we shall have an enjoyable day, with some really remarkable sights.
                    We're especially happy to come on board and meet your King and Queen,
                    Old friends who now for twenty years, alas, we have not seen."

Neptune then paused and stated:-

                  "Old as my Court and Kingdom are, a thorough search has shown
                    That no monarch ever troubled in the past to leave his throne
                    To come and visit Neptune in his realm of salty waters;
                    Yet here we have King George, His Queen, and both His Charming Daughters.
                    And now, dear Sir, you know the way, I hope you'll come again,
                    For we're always pleased to welcome you throughout our whole domain."

Here the Court applauded loudly.

                  "Now before we get to aquatic events, with the rites and initiations,
                     I should like to confer, if I may, my dear Sir, a few orders and decorations.
                    The first award I shall bestow is for your Queen and King,
                    They're very often travelling, so I've brought them just the thing;
                     It's exactly what we think you need for voyages overseas
                     An equatorial contract, which will take you where you please."

The Occasion was certainly unique, for although Their Majesties the King and Queen had already crossed the Line in HMS Renown, this was to be the first occasion that a reigning monarch had ever visited King Neptune and the first occasion on which Their Royal Highnesses Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret had crossed the Line.