SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — While many members of the British Royal Family have come to the San Francisco Bay Area over the years, it was the visits of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles in the 1970s and 1980s that drew the most attention.
The 1983 and 1977 visits were filled with pomp and ceremony but San Francisco’s large Irish-American population also made sure the royals knew how displeased they were with the conflict in Northern Ireland.
On November 4, 1965, Princess Margaret, her husband Lord Snowdon, and her spectacular collection of gowns, jewels, and hats all paid a visit to the San Francisco Bay Area. The U.S. tour was 5 months in the making. The 35-year-old princess’s plane landed at SFO at 6:05 p.m. after a 90-minute stopover in New York.
The fun-loving pair was referred to as the “madcap” leaders of Britain’s young and middle-aged married set. They stayed at the top floor of the Huntington Hotel, making it their headquarters for their 3 ½ day trip in the Bay Area.
The controversial, fun-loving sister of Queen Elizabeth had a packed schedule: including public engagements such as a fashion show at the Hilton Hotel, to taking a hover craft to Oakland to visit UC Berkeley.
12 years later, on October 27, 1977, Prince Charles paid a visit to the Bay Area. He was 28, a bachelor, and ardently pursued by Bay Area Irish activists. Various pro-Irish clubs carried coffins and signs demanding that British troops get out of Northern Ireland.
Prince Charles arrived in the Bay Area, went to the Fairmont, then headed over to the San Francisco Press Club where he offered a few observations.
KPIX reporter Pat O’Brien reported on the Prince’s visit to UC Berkeley. Charles was once again greeted by Irish activists but then the Cal Band and students also mobbed the scene.
KPIX reporter Tim Findley covered a big San Francisco protest against Prince Charles. Delancey Street rented a double-decker bus as Irish activist clubs gathered for a noisy protest outside the British Consul General’s home on Pacific Ave.
KPIX reporter Pat O’Brien talked with an Irish-American activist group which showed him the casket they planned to parade at all the events in honor of Prince Charles’ visit to the Bay Area.
Last stop on his West Coast tour: Prince Charles stopped by UC Davis on Oct. 29, 1977 and lunched with then-governor Jerry Brown who reportedly served him cold cuts.
On March 3, 1983, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip arrived a day ahead of schedule, and it threw their security into a frenzy.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were supposed to arrive in the Bay Area, sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge on the royal yacht Brittania. But a big storm and rough seas (and a tornado that touched down near LA) scrapped those plans.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were treated to a welcome to San Francisco at Davies Symphony Hall. Mary Martin, Tony Bennet and the cast from Beach Blanket Babylon sang for them.
Pro-Irish demonstrators amassed outside of Davies Symphony Hall to protest the Queen’s visit. Inside, the events were disrupted by an Irish Northern AID protestor who shouted “Stop the Torture” – and was hustled out.
The Queen visits Hewlett-Packard headquarters and then has lunch at Hoover house on the Stanford Campus with President Donald Kennedy and his wife and a bunch of students.
Queen Elizabeth brought out her huge jewels and giant tiara, and toasted then President Ronald Reagan at a star-studded event at the DeYoung. On the guest list: Bay Area Royalty: Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Montana, and Steve Jobs.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visit Yosemite. On the way, a sheriff’s patrol car collided head-on with a carload of Secret Service agents, killing. The accident did not involve the Royal motorcade.
In 2005, Prince Charles returned to the Bay Area. This time, he was newly married to Camilla Parker Bowles.
Included in their busy schedule: the couple visited a farmer’s market in Point Reyes Station, Alice Water’s Edible Schoolyard, climbed onboard a U.S. Coast Guard ship, got a key to the city, and then visited the Empress Hotel in the Tenderloin, where the couple learned about a homelessness project.
The Prince sported at tie emblazoned with Cal’s Golden Bears. It was a gift he had received during his 1st visit all those years ago.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, and his wife Kimberly Guilfoyle hosted them at Beach Blanket Babylon in North Beach.
The next evening , in the pouring rain, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall attended a black-tie event at the newly renovated DeYoung Museum – one of the San Francisco’s crown jewels.
The Prince gave a toast. He mentioned his previous visit and how when he was here last, he was the age that his two sons are now. He raised a glass, and thanked his hosts