A STEADY drizzle was falling on Dumbarton Castle, on April 16, 1953. The VIPs and other guests were patiently waiting for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, who were 10 minutes behind schedule. The local Provost, A McLeod, sheltered beneath an umbrella held by the council officer as he kept his eyes peeled for sight of the royal car.

The officers and men of a couple of regiments were lining the outer gate of the castle, alongside sea, army and air force cadets, Guides, and the Home Guard and Civil Defence services. Spectators outside the gates amused themselves by trying to outwit the police and find a good vantage point. Children perched precariously one-third of the way up the rock. Those spectators in a covered stand were, at least, sitting comfortably.

At length, the Queen and the Duke arrived, and everyone snapped to attention, the rain suddenly an irrelevance.

The ceremonies that followed included the Keeper of the Castle, Major-General Alexander Telfer-Smollett, presenting himself along with his son, Major Patrick Telfer-Smollett, who was bearing a cushion on which the castle keys lay. Maj-Gen Telfer-Smollett then took the cushion and, on bended knee, presented it to the Queen (right).

Among the guests at the ceremony of the keys was Mrs Jane McGregor, who had been born at the castle in 1870, the daughter of a master gunner who had fought in the Crimean War. Mrs McGregor and her sister, Mrs Jessie Jennings 90, lived together in the town, and both had been present at the visit in 1935 of the late King George VI and the Queen Mother.

Next after Dumbarton Castle on the Queen's schedule that April day was a visit to the Mountblow housing scheme in Clydebank. In Hobart Crescent, the welcoming cheers were led by elderly couples who had been bombed out during the 1941 air raids. All of the houses had flags or other royal emblems in their windows.

The Queen, who by now had put on a raincoat, dropped in at number 27 to meet Mr David Wilson, 80, a retired shipyard caulker, and his wife, Norah. On Norah’s invitation, the royals entered their cottage and were shown around. In the kitchen (the bedroom and the living-room were inspected by the Queen), the Duke expressed pleasure at the sight of the electric cooker and labour-saving devices.

“I was completely flabbergasted at first, because we had no idea the Queen and Duke were to visit us,” Mrs Wilson said afterwards. “They were both very charming, however, and immediately put us at our ease.”

The royal couple’s other engagement that day was a visit to the Burroughs Adding Machine factory at the Vale of Leven industrial estate. The Queen planted a Scots pine to mark the occasion, and she was presented with a miniature adding-machine for each of her children.

Read more: Herald Diary