Relive Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Boston in 1976

The queen and Prince Philip stopped in Boston for a day of festivities, including remarks from the Old State House and a luncheon in City Hall.

Queen Elizabeth II rides with Gov. Michael Dukakis during her visit to Boston, July 11, 1976. Charles Dixon/Globe Staff

“Queen Elizabeth II made up for the tyrannical reputation of her great-great-great-great-grandfather, King George III, yesterday: she made friends with Boston.”

That is how a front page article in the Boston Globe began on July 12, 1976, one day after the Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, visited the city.

The piece goes on to detail the monarch’s remarkable visit to a city that birthed the American Revolution. The royals were welcomed with a 21-gun salute fired from the USS Constitution, the Globe reported at the time. The ship, better known as Old Ironsides, earned its fame during the War of 1812 when it defeated five British warships.


Then-Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis and Mayor Kevin White greeted Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip as they stepped off Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia.

Queen Elizabeth is greeted as she arrives in Boston on July 11, 1976. Governor Michael Dukakis is at her left. Boston Mayor Kevin White and Prince Philip are in the background. (Charles Dixon/Globe Staff)

Queen Elizabeth was escorted by Dukakis to the North End, for services in the Old North Church. As they cruised through the streets in a black Cadillac, National Guard officers, local police, and Secret Service agents kept an eye out for trouble.

Queen Elizabeth and Gov. Michael Dukakis. (Ted Dully/Globe Staff)

With Dukakis at her side, Queen Elizabeth then greeted “a line of a dozen distinguished clerics,” according to the Globe. This included Humberto Sousa Medeiros, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston at the time.

They entered Old North Church to the sounds of an organist playing Bach’s Solemn Processional. Inside, Prince Philip read a new testament verse from The Gospel of Matthew. It was the only time he spoke publicly that day, the Globe reported.

Next on the docket for the visiting monarch was a trip to the Old State House. Once she arrived there, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip sat on a red-carpeted platform to hear Harvard poet David McCord recite “Sestina for the Queen,” which he had composed in honor of the visit.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip wave to the crowd at the Old State House. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)

The queen gave a speech from the Old State House to an assembled crowd, 200 years after the Declaration of Independence was read from the same building.


“If Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and other patriots could have known that one day a British Monarch would stand beneath the balcony of the Old State House, from which the Declaration of Independence was first read to the people of Boston and be greeted by the Mayor and others in such generous words, well I think they would have been extremely surprised!” the queen said.

“But perhaps they would also have been pleased,” she continued. “Pleased to know that, eventually, we came together again as free peoples and friends and defended together the very ideals for which the American Revolution was fought.”

Queen Elizabeth II meets Boston mayor Kevin White. (Ted Dully/Globe Staff)

Ceremonies were planned at City Hall, and White escorted the queen there. On the way, they sauntered past local reenactors dressed as American Revolution-era British redcoats.

Mayor Kevin White escorts Queen Elizabeth II through Washington Mall in Boston on the way to City Hall ceremonies as Colonel Vincent J. R. Kehoe, left, and his 10th Regiment of Foot, Chelmsford, guard the way. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)

Queen Elizabeth was also greeted by some not-so-friendly faces. Outside Boston City Hall, protesters gathered and held up signs to show their solidarity against the crown.

Protesters hold up signs outside Boston City Hall during Queen Elizabeth II’s visit, July 11, 1976. (Ted Dully/Globe Staff)

The queen was toasted at a private luncheon inside City Hall. It lasted for about two hours, the Globe reported, and poached yearling silver salmon was served to 192 guests.

Queen Elizabeth II is toasted at a luncheon at Boston City Hall during her visit to Boston. Prince Philip is at right. (Charles Dixon/Globe Staff)

After the queen emerged from the luncheon, protesters stood alongside hundreds of people hoping to glimpse the monarch, lined eight deep behind yellow ropes, according to the Globe.


“Shouts of ‘England, Out Now!’ and ‘What do we want? Freedom!’ pierced the air much like the freedom cries of colonial patriots who gathered on the same streets two centuries ago,” Globe reporter Margeurite Del Giudice wrote.

But for the most part, Del Giudice continued, the protesters were drowned out by cheers in support of the British royalty. For an hour, the queen reviewed a parade of Revolutionary militia reenactors before boarding the Constitution. Onboard, she was gifted a 32-piece sterling silver teaspoon set by the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company.

The queen and her companions then returned to the Britannia for a private party before sailing to Canada. There, Queen Elizabeth appeared during the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Montreal.

Queen Elizabeth II and Boston mayor Kevin White (in second car) ride along Congress Street, waving to the crowd outside City Hall during her visit to Boston. (Charles Dixon/Globe Staff)


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