On June 10, 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom visited Monmouth County as part of a visit to Canada and the U.S. The royal couple, known colloquially by the U.S. press as “Bert and Betty Windsor,” departed Portsmouth, England, on May 6, aboard the luxury passenger liner Empress of Australia. They started in Quebec, with a tour of Canada before heading to Washington, D.C., and then making their way back north. It marked the first time in history that a reigning British monarch had visited either Canada or the United States.
News coverage leading up to the royal visit was breathless and nonstop, and included copious details, such as that a Master of Costumes would accompany the queen on this tour and manage her wardrobe. Special commemorative postage stamps were issued. The Monmouth County Chamber of Commerce called for an effort to “spruce up” the community.
On the day of their visit to Monmouth County, the king, 43, and queen, 38, were accompanied by President and Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and a retinue of 30. They arrived by train in Red Bank at 7:00 a.m. Following a ceremony at the station, the party left by automobile for Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook, where they boarded the destroyer USS Warrington for the trip to New York City. There, they were met by New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and New York Governor Herbert H. Lehman and proceeded to a reception at the World’s Fair.
Newspaper accounts of the day said an orderly crowd estimated at 200,000 jammed the Red Bank train station and lined Rumson Road all the way to Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright. The crowds were apparently disappointed that the group had chosen a closed car, so that few people were able to get a good glimpse of the royal couple or the president and first lady as they passed through the region.
200,000 Roar Greeting to King. (1939). Asbury Park Press, June 10, 1939, P. 1.
Accompany King and Queen. (1939). The Courier-News, Bridgewater, N.J., May 2, 1939, P. 5.
Gentleman Master of Costumes. (1939). The Central New Jersey Home News, New Brunswick, N.J., May 1, 1939, P. 11.
King, Queen Sail. (1939). Associated Press, published in the Asbury Park Press, May 6, 1939.
Walder, Edward G. (1939). “Royal” Reception for Royalty. The Daily Standard, Red Bank, N.J., May 4, 1939, P. 12.
Stamps for Royal Visitors. (1939). The Record, Hackensack, N.J., May 1, 1939, P. 18. Sullivan, Joseph. (1976). Red Bank Hopes to Re‐Create Royal Visit. The New York Times, April 17, 1976, P. 45. Available: https://www.nytimes.com/1976/04/17/archives/red-bank-hopes-to-recreate-royal-visit.html
Featured Image: Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother; King George VI by Vandyk, whole-plate glass negative, 11 November 1926. NPG x28019. Used under terms of Creative Commons, © National Portrait Gallery, London.