THE weather, as the Glasgow Herald’s Christopher Small wrote on the morning of June 24, 1953, “broods with inescapable menace over all Scottish occasions,” including the day, a century and a quarter earlier, when rain and cloud had accompanied George IV into the Firth of Forth.

Thus it had been on Tuesday, the twenty-third day of June, when Small observed of the State visit of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to Scotland’s capital: “Wrapped in her characteristic haar, the ghostly emanation of her own grey stones, Edinburgh showed herself in partial glimpses, large, mysterious, more reticent than gaudy London, to welcome royalty in her own fashion: and nothing, certainly not a little vapour, could have subdued the happy enthusiasms of her citizens, cheering, applauding, waving a multitude of flags all the long way the Queen passed, down Princes Street, past the new Acropolis of the Capital, and away to its ancient royal heart at Holyrood.”

Princes Street (right, top) was lined with people, many of whom had camped overnight in order to secure the best vantage-point; “shops, closed, but uncommonly full, disgorged sightseers on to balconies and window-sills; school children were mustered in excited groups before the Gardens; blue-jackets were drilled into single undeviating lines of white gaiters and white caps stretching into the distance.”

Photographers followed the royal cortege every last step of the way on the 23rd and the 24th: the State procession to Holyroodhouse; The Mound, thronged with enthusiastic well-wishers (main image, far right); and outside St Giles’ Cathedral (right, bottom).

Read more: Herald Diary

No effort had been spared to make the city look at its absolute best. As the Queen and Duke stepped onto a north-bound train at London’s Euston Station on the evening of the 22nd, an army of workmen was touring Edinburgh, renewing faded decorations and stocking countless window-boxes with geraniums, hydrangeas, marguerites and lobelia.

Whereas the city had been slow to adorn itself for the Coronation, the Herald reported, now it was putting on the “gayest of attire” for its State visit week. “Thousands of flags and more than 1,000,000 flowers and plants have given an atmosphere of colour and jollity to the usually solemn Capital.”

Citizens and visitors alike had become infected. The good-natured grumbling of business people about the closing of roads to traffic during rehearsals of the royal processions “gave way to happy anticipation and cosmopolitan chatter on Princes Street ... The citizen, between darting below the crush barriers to cross the street and dodging the big American cars that drove along the road, paused to glance at workmen titivating the decorated exteriors of shops and clubs.

“Tubs and pots of hydrangeas and geraniums arrived by the lorry-load around Princes Street and at the West End, where a group of visitors from the United States plied hotel porters and policemen with the oft-reiterated question: ‘Where can I see the Queen?’”