PARASITES!” chanted a cluster of around 30 demonstrators from the Scottish Socialist League, standing outside the Jack Kane Centre in Craigmillar, Edinburgh. The rest of the substantial crowd around them tried to drown the chants and the boos with cheers.

It was May 1977, and the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were on a walkabout in Craigmillar as part of their extensive Silver Jubilee celebrations.

The chants reached the monarch’s ears as she met local people but she ignored them. The Duke, however, asked one local woman, “Who are they?”

“Don’t pay any attention to them,” she urged him.

The demonstrators were holding banners that called for the abolition of the monarchy, but the huge crowd chanted “We want the Queen” and, in this newspaper’s words, “gave the royal couple a welcome to to be proud of”.

In the Kane Centre itself, the Queen had the unusual experience of meeting someone who had once been her next-door neighbour.

Mrs Margaret McDonald, aged 81, of Greendykes Gardens, Edinburgh, told her that she had once lived in the Royal Mile, and remembered the occasions when, as children, the Queen and her sister, Princess Margaret, had stayed at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Outside the centre, the royal couple spotted a corgi belonging to Mrs Betty Jackson, of Leith, and they spoke to her.

A 10-year-old girl, who had travelled from Portobello, handed the Duke a card addressed to his wife, and he said he would pass it on.

The royals called in on a sheltered workshop at Peffer Place where 125 blind or disabled people worked.

They laughed when Michael, a 40-year-old man there, told them that the workshop was too warm and too noisy and that as a member of the works council he would be discussing the complaints with the general manager.

Tony Cole, the general manager in question, interrupted him to say, deadpan, “I’m still here, you know.”

“I thought he had had gone,” Michael admitted later.

That same day, the Queen Mother returned to the Lanarkshire village of Blantyre to finish the job she had begun as Duchess of York 48 years earlier, when she opened the first stage of the David Livingstone Memorial Centre.

Now, she cut the tape on the new, £120,000 Africa Pavilion, an exhibition centre designed to depict the way of life in modern Africa. Among those presented to the Queen Mother at the memorial was Dr David Wilson, a great-grandson of David Livingstone. As a small boy, Dr Wilson had handed her the key with which she opened the centre, back in 1929.

* Tomorrow: The Queen addresses the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, May 1977.

Read more: Herald Diary