IT was June 22, 1955, and the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were scheduled to carry out several engagements in central Scotland.

The plan was for the Duke to fly by helicopter from Edinburgh to Uddingston, where he would join the royal train, which was taking the Queen from London to Glasgow. The train halted at Uddingston at 10.11am for the rendezvous. At that time, he was 11 minutes late, and there was no sign of him.

Reports from Edinburgh said the helicopter had taken off on schedule but that flying conditions were very poor. Forty anxious minutes later, the Queen learned that the Duke had had to make an emergency landing on a football pitch in Bathgate, in driving rain.

The train then made its way to Glasgow as a car raced to Bathgate to pick up the Duke. The first engagement that day was a visit to the Templeton’s carpet factory at Bridgeton (above).

Eight days later the Duke again went behind the controls of a Royal Navy helicopter – and this time there were no mishaps.

After making a circuit of Ibrox Stadium he touched down on the centre of the field and shook hands with councillor John F. Wilson, chairman of Rangers. He strode across the turf (main image) to shake hands with other dignitaries before being driven under police escort to his first engagement at Clyde Place Quay, for the naming of the Outward Bound Trust’s Moray Sea School’s new, Danish-built schooner.

His visit evidently recalled his own, vivid experiences at Gordonstoun and his training under sail in the Moray Firth.

“It is not so long ago that I cannot remember what it was like to go sailing in those ships”, he said.

“In fact I remember only too well the times when I was wet, cold, miserable, probably sick, and often scared stiff, but I would not have missed that experience for anything.

“In any case the discomfort was far outweighed by the moments of intense happiness and excitement. Poets and authors down the centuries have tried to describe those moments but their descriptions, however brilliant, will never compare with one’s own experience”.

Read more: Herald Diary