The Royals | 12 iconic memories of past visits to Fiji

YearRoyal Family MembersDates of VisitHost
1927Duke and Duchess of YorkUnknownUnknown
1953Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh17th-19th DecemberGovernor Garvey
1963Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh2nd–3rd FebruaryGovernor Maddocks
1970Prince Charles9th-15th OctoberGovernor Foster
1973Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh16th-17th OctoberGovernor-General Cakobau
1974Prince Charles8th-12th October Unknown
1977Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh16th-17th FebruaryGovernor-General Cakobau
1982Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh30th October – 1st NovemberGovernor-General Cakobau
1985Prince Charles and Princess DianaUnkownGovernor-General of Fiji, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau
1998Duke of York (Prince Andrew)UnknownUnknown
2005Prince Charles10th-11th MarchUnknown
2018The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Prince Harry and Meghan Markle)23rd-25th OctoberUnknown

Royal Famly Tree

The Entire Royal Family Tree Explained in One Easy Chart

1927 | Duke and Duchess of York (King George VI and Queen Elizabeth)

Duke and Duchess of York (King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) Visiting Fiji
Duke and Duchess of York (King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) Visiting Fiji

On of the first visits by members of the Royal Family, the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) visited the Fiji Islands during a larger tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1927. They were welcomed at the traditional Veirqaraqaravi Vakavanua ceremony also attended by Ratu E. Seniloli, the grandson of the late King Cakobau. (RW,2018)

1953 | Queen Visit (17th-19th December) – Video

Balcony appearance at the Ball, on the balcony of the Grand Pacific Hotel
Balcony appearance at the Ball, on the balcony of the Grand Pacific Hotel

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh arrived in Fiji on a two-day visit as part of their six-month Commonwealth Tour on this day in 1953-

An article from the Sydney Morning Herald Late edition read: December 19, 1953

Queen’s visit ends today ‘Lovely day’ spent in Sugar Town

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh had another busy round of engagements in Fiji today, but the program was less exhausting compared to the day of arrival yesterday they spent most of the day at the headquarters town of Lautoka the hub of the sugar industry on the northern coast of  Viti Levu. The visit was made in New Zealand flying boat Aotearoa II which flew from Suva on the south coast to Lautoka in an hour.

The day was hot, with temperatures hovering around 80 degrees but there was a cool sea breeze, the queen said she had had a lovely day and upon her return to Suva it was remarked that she looked more refreshed compared with her tired appearance with which she began a day.  Tomorrow morning the Queen and The Duke will leave by flying boat for the Kingdom of Tonga where there would be a guest of Queen Salote until Sunday

The Queen’s main engagement today was a flying visit first in a flying boat from Suva to Lautoka on the opposite northern coast of the island, accompanied by the governor of Fiji, Ronald Garvey, and Lady Garvey, the Queen, and the Duke traveled from Suva in the Yasmin Empire Airways flying boat the Aotearoa II. an hours flight and from the mooring in Lautoka arrived at the town Wharf in a tender of the Royal New Zealand Air Force

First to greet the Queen was a nine-year-old Subadhara a pupil of the Drasa Indian school who was chosen by a system of intelligence tests and knowledge of English to present a bouquet to the Queen.

Flowers, Greenery

From dawn this morning tens of thousands of Fijian and Indian people from canelands and pineapple fields of northern Viti Levu and rich goldmines of Tavua fields poured into Lautoka to welcome the Royal visitors. They bought flowers by the truckload and greenery by the ton.  The whole of the Royal passage was decorated so that the queen and the Duke would pass under a bower of lower-laden arches. Suspended baskets of crimson flamboyant blooms were placed every few yards along the roads. Twenty thousand people acclaimed the Royal couple’s Fijian-type house on the hills overlooking the town of Lautoka.

Saw Athletes

After lunch, the queen and the duke transferred to a small open car and drove to Churchill Park, where they joined a crowd of 8,000 at a Fijian athletic meeting.  They cheered as the car, flying the Royal Standard drove around the track.  The Queen and the Duke took their places on a dais with a cover of palm leaves to keep off the blazing afternoon sun.  Indians and Fijians crowded into every vantage point waving small Union Flags.  The Queen wore a short-sleeved frock of pale blue with a white and black flower design, a pale blue hat, and white shoes.  The Duke was in a lightweight blue suit and wore a brown soft felt hat.  Both wore sunglasses and used rush fans in the heat of the afternoon.

Cars Mobbed

Thousands of excited Fijians and Indians pressed on to the car in which the Queen and the Duke were leaving the sports meeting.  Police and ex-servicemen links arms and fought with the determination of a Rugby scrum to hold back the crush.  They reopened a lane for the royal car, which speeded up to get clear.  The Queen summed up her impression of her five-hour visit to Lautoka when she told the District Commissioner for the Western District, Mr. H. G. R. McAlpine before she left for Suva. ‘ It has been a lovely day.’

Not to Tired 

Looking more refreshed than on her departure this morning, the queen stepped smilingly from the flying boat that flew her from Lautoka this evening,  The heat and the strenuous day at Lautoka appeared not to have affected her, but the Duke seemed to be slightly sunburnt.  Tonight the Queen entertained 14 guests at dinner in the Gothic.  The Duke of Edinburgh also received a group of scientists employed on various projects in the colony.

Address of Welcome

Before leaving Suva for Lautoka this morning the Queen attended the Legislative Council for the presentation of the Colony’s formal address of welcome.  The address of welcome was elaborately illuminated and handsomely bound in rich leather with Fiji’s coat of arms on the front and a scarlet hibiscus on the back cover.  The address said: her majesty’s visit to us today is the most splendid event in the years of our history as a colony

Cathedral Visit

The queen replied to the address and held the priest and only investiture of the pacific visit.  The queen and the duke visited the new Anglican cathedral in Suva.  They met up with the Bishop the Right Rev. L. Kempthorne, whom a few minutes previously the Queen had invested with the C.B.E.  There was some consternation when, within a minute of the Queen’s approach, it was noticed that a water table near the pathway where the queen and the duke would alight from their car was full of leaves.  Hurriedly and immaculately white-clad missionary dashed into the cathedral and found a broom and fast sweeping up.  He returned the broom and took his place in the line of clergy assembled to meet the Queen  It was touch and go as a few seconds later the Queen’s car stopped and she alighted.

To Tonga Today

The royal couple will fly from Suva to the island Kingdom of Tonga, tomorrow morning.  They will leave the Gothic at 8.30 am to drive to the flying boat base at Laucala Bay.  Their drive to the base will be their last through Suva’s brilliantly decorated Streets.  The Royal New Zealand Air Force will mount a guard of honour at the flying boat base, which the queen will inspect.  Then she, the Duke, and members of the staff will leave for Tonga in the T.E.A.L flying boat Aotearoa II, which they flew to Lautoka today.  A farewell salute of 21 guns will be fired by the Fiji Artillery.  The Flying boat is expected to arrive at Nukualofa at about noon.

1963 | Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh (2nd-3rd February) – Video

Queen Elixabeth II drinking Kava during her welcoming ceromoney at Albert Park, Suva in 1963.
Welcoming Ceremony for the Queen in 1963 to Fiji

Queen Elizabeth II with her husband Prince Philip arrived in Suva harbor on the Royal Britannica (constructed and launched at John Brown & Company shipyard, Clydebank, Scotland on 16 April 1953, serving the royal family for 44 years),  the queen was welcomed by an opening ceremony at Albert Park, befitting her position, including the drinking of kava to welcome them to the islands officially.  Although a brief visit, they attended to several official duties at the government house, with an open-top car tour through the streets of Suva, allowing her to see and be seen by the new generation of subjects.

1970 | Fiji Independence (9th-15th October) – Video Playlist 

Prince Charles meeting local chiefs at Levuka on the island of Ovalau
Prince Charles meeting local chiefs at Levuka on the island of Ovalau, 10/15/1970. (Photo by Express/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Over 150 hundred years ago the chiefs of Fiji seeded the island to Queen Victoria for the protection and guidance of the Fijian People, for 96 years, Fiji was under British Rule, then on Oct 10th, 1970 came independence, the British government restored independence willing at the request of the government of Fiji following a constitutional conference in London in April 1970,

Prince Charles, came to Fiji as a representative of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II to present official documents which restored independence to Fiji.   Independence came at precisely 10 o’clock in the morning on 10th October 1970, precisely 96 years to the day after the cessions of the islands to the British crown on October the 10th 1874.

The historical moment was marked by Princes Charles handing to the first prime minister of Independent Fiji, the documents of Independence. (PDF).  Celebrations covering six days saw nothing but harmony, happiness, and rejoicing amongst the nation’s multicultural population of half a million people.  Prince Charles toured the full breadth of the nation, from Taveuni, Savusavu, and Nadi, with Lautoka being the last item on his official program.

Fiji Independence Order 1970 and Constitution of Fiji

1973 | Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh (16th-17th October) – Video

Queen Elizabeth ll and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh receive and are entertained by Fijian folk and traditional dancers on board the Royal Yacht Britannia when they arrive in Fiji on February 16, 1977 in Fij
Queen Elizabeth ll and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh receive and are entertained by Fijian folk and traditional dancers on board the Royal Yacht Britannia when they arrive in Fiji on February 16, 1977, in Fiji. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

1974 | Prince Charles (8th-12th October) – Video

The Young Prince of Wales walking with dignitaries in Fiji, whilst representing his mother Queen Elizabeth II on the centenary celebrations.
Charles, Prince of Wales, represents the Queen at the centenary celebrations in Fiji, in October 1974. (Photo by Serge Lemoine/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

1977 | Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh (16th-17th February) – Video

queen elizabeth ii enjoying suvas sunny welcome

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, arrived in Fiji on 17 February 1977, as part of the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of her accession to the British throne (celebrations throughout the UK and Commonwealth were held, with commemorative church services through the following month), the royal couple entered the port of Suva on Royal Britannica, to start their official duties.

In the traditional banquet dinner held in her honour in Suva, the Queen praised Fiji’s development since the last time she visited in 1953:

“Although it is nearly a quarter of a century ago I remember as if it were yesterday the sight of these beautiful islands as we made our first landfall since leaving Panama and sailed into Suva bay,” she said. “The beauty remains as fresh as ever yet the economic, social and political progress has been remarkable and is something of which I am sure you have good reason to be proud”.  “Nor has progress been confined within these islands. In the international field, Fiji has won an honoured place in the counsels of the nations.” (The Fiji Times, 1977)

1982 | Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh (30th Oct – 1st Nov) – Video

The Queen smiles at Prince Philip during their tour of the South Pacific in Fiji - 1982
The Queen smiles at Prince Philip during their tour of the South Pacific in Fiji – in 1982

Queen Elizabeth II accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, arrived in Fiji for a two and half-day tour, this was the last official stop on their month-long itinerary of island-hopping across the south pacific islands.  The couple arrived in the capital of Suva via the yacht Britannia, to a large welcoming ceremony comprising honorable officials and eagerly awaiting Fijians, harbourside.

On Sunday, the Queen traveled by launch to the historic island of Bau, located about 7 nautical miles to the east of Suva City,  an island small in size but huge in stature, supporting only three tiny villages and less than 10 acres in size, the island is home to some of the most historical milestones in Fijian history and lays to rest the burial sites of the many chiefs and King Cakobau, the first king of Fiji.  The Queen was welcomed to Bau by the Prime Minister at the time the Honorable Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, followed by a traditional welcoming ceremony by the great council of chiefs,  both held special significance to the native Fijians, who witnessed the event unfold in respectful silence by thousands of villagers and officials.  The official visit ended with a more private investiture (act or formal ceremony of conferring the authority and symbols of a high office) in the Chiefs Meeting House.

In the evening the traditional state banquet took place at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva, with all the dignitaries invited, this would be the final official duty of Prince Philip as he had to leave early on Monday morning for Japan upon the Britannica,  The Queen stayed on for the majority of the following day visiting the second largest city Lautoka,  where she traveled through the town in an open-top vehicle,  with stop-offs at the Civic Center, and Lautoka National Hospital, were she changed vehicle to travel Nadi international airport to travel back to England.

Honorable Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara said ‘It is our hope and desire that our loyalty to the crown shall remain for all time. I assure you of our abiding loyalty and affection, and our deepest respect and devotion to the crown and to you the queen of Fiji.’

1985 | Prince Charles and Princess Diana Stopover (Only for 1 hr) – Video

The team was in two minds as if to include this visit, as it was an unplanned refueling stopover before heading for Melbourne, Commonwealth of Australia, the royal couple were in Fiji for about 1 hr, and never left the confines of the airport.   They were greeted by the Governor-General of Fiji, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, for a brief chat on the tarmac.

1998 | Duke of York Visited after Fiji rejoined the Commonwealth

Prince Andrew being carried on a wooden throne by 12 Fijian Warriors whist visiting Beqa Island in the Fijian Islands
Prince Andrew visiting Beqa Island in the Fijian Islands

We were unable to find any real information regarding this trip in the archives, several images of  Prince Andrew, with the late former President The Right Honourable Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara at the government house, and the short visit to Beqa island, thou no real written context around the images and the Pacific Tour.

2005 | Prince Charles Visit – (10th-11th March) – (2-Day Visit) 

Britain's Prince Charles is greeted by well wishers as he arrives on the beach of Castaway Island in Fiji March 11, 2005. Prince Charles is visiting Fiji for two days on the final leg of a tour
Britain’s Prince Charles is greeted by well-wishers as he arrives on the beach of Castaway Island in Fiji on March 11, 2005. Prince Charles is visiting Fiji for two days on the final leg of a tour

Prince Charles arrived in Fiji on the last leg of his overseas tour in 2005, upon arriving, the prince attended a welcoming ceremony in the home village of Fijian president Ratu Josefa Iloilo where he was presented with a whale’s tooth, symbolizing the important historic link between the two nations, with a private meeting with Prime Minister Laisenia Qaraser shortly afterward.

As this was only a short trip (30 hours in total), he still managed to squeeze in a three-hour tour of a coral reef conservation project at Castaway Island in the Mamanuca Islands,  traveling to the island via an open-roofed motor boat. (picture above)

Charles expressed gratitude to the more than 400 government officials, chiefs, and villagers who attended:

“I can’t tell you with what joy I have looked forward to coming back to Fiji,” Charles told the gathering, I have been deeply touched and grateful for the wonderful welcome that you have given me on this occasion.”

2017 | Queen visited the Sainsbury Centre in the UK – Fiji Exhibition – A look back at Fiji Art and Life in the Pacific – Video

Queen visited the Sainsbury Centre in the UK - Fiji Exhibition - A look back at Fiji Art and Life in the Pacific
Queen visited the Sainsbury Centre in the UK – Fiji Exhibition – A look back at Fiji Art and Life in the Pacific, (Crouch, A. 2021)

The Sainsbury Center in Norwich, United Kingdom, held the largest and most comprehensive exhibition ever assembled about Fijian Life, with significant works contributed to the project from the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology at Cambridge, the Fiji Museum, the British Museum, and the Pitt Rivers Museum. The Queen toured the museum and met with several Fijian students studying in the UK, with an unveiling of a plaque to mark her visit.  Discover more…

2018 | The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (23rd-25th October) – Video 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the Balcony at the Grand Pacific Hotel Fiji
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the Balcony at the Grand Pacific Hotel Fiji, (GPH 2018, October 31)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s first official tour took place between October 16th to 31st 2018, the tour included Australia, Fiji, the kingdom of Tonga, and New Zealand in its itinerary, Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama invited Prince Harry and Princess Meghan to Fiji when he had visited London earlier in the year and was delighted upon hearing their acceptance, he tweeted out the following message

“Very excited to hear from @KensingtonRoyal that Prince Harry and Princess Meghan have accepted my invitation to see Fiji and spend time among our people. It will be a proud moment for every Fijian as we welcome this exceptional couple to our country. #Fiji #TeamFiji”

Iconic Memories of the past – Duke, and Duchess of Sussex greeted cheering crowds from the palatial balcony of the Grand Pacific Hotel in Fiji’s capital Suva, ‘But for long-time Royal watchers, the scene was eerily familiar, a throwback even, to a similar sight 65 years ago when the prince’s grandparents, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, completed the very same act.'(GPH, 2018).

During their visit to Fiji, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex managed to squeeze in one luxurious night to themselves at the world-class Vatuvara Private Islands Resort with infinity pools, private beaches, and the finest dining experiences, a venue fit for royalty, the couple was able to enjoy a private retreat, away from all the paparazzi, no images have ever been seen of their stay at the resort.

Full Itinerary Kensington Palace

They will travel by a chartered flight to Suva (Nausori International Airport) where they will embark on a three-day program starting on October 23.

October 23

  • Upon their arrival, the Royal Highnesses will be greeted by a Guard of Honour at the airport, before calling on the President at Borron House in Suva;
  • The Duke and Duchess will then attend an official welcome ceremony in Albert Park – known as the veirqaraqaravi vakavanua;
  • The ceremony will mirror the format of the one attended by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh in 1953;
  • The public event will involve a number of traditional elements of Fijian culture, including dance performances, the presentation of the tabua, and a kava ceremony;
  • From there, The Duke and Duchess will leave Albert Park for the Grand Pacific Hotel to attend a reception and a State dinner hosted by the President, at which The Duke will speak.

October 24

October 25

  • The Duke and Duchess will travel to Nadi where they will attend a special event at Nadi International Airport;
  • After an official welcome ceremony, The Duke and Duchess will unveil a new statue commemorating Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba, a British-Fijian soldier who lost his life in the 1972 Battle of Mirbat.
  • From Nadi International Airport, Their Royal Highnesses will take a chartered flight to Tonga.

2020 | The Prince of Wales on 50 years of Fiji’s Independence – (Main Video)

The Prince of Wales on 50 years of Fiji's independence
The Prince of Wales on 50 years of Fiji’s independence

The Right Honourable Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama CF (MIL), OStJ, MSD, MP, the prime minister of Fiji (between 5 January 2007 – 24 December 2022), formally invited the Royal Highness Prince Charles as the chief guest for Fiji’s 50th Independence day celebrations, whilst speaking at a Fijian Diaspora in the United Arab Emirates, in the month of January 2020.

Bainimarama said ‘it would be fitting for Prince Charles to attend since he handed Fiji the instruments of Independence on October 10th 1970, I’ve come out to invite His Royal Highness Prince Charles to come to be our chief guest. He was the one to give us the Constitution in 1970. Some may not have been born then. It will be a wonderful opportunity if he comes back to be our chief guest.’

Unfortunately due to the Covid 19 Pandemic, the Prince of Wales had to send “special blessings and congratulations” to President Konrote, Prime Minister Bainimarama, and the people of the Republic of Fiji via video message. (Main Video).

A small contingent of five Fijian soldiers of the Black Watch, an infantry 3rd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland visited Birkhall to present a Tabua to his Royal Highness, presented by Sergeant Lawaci who was awarded the Queens Gallantry Medal in 2005 for his services in Iraq.  They performed the Lakalaka celebrational dance of life and concluded with the song ‘Isa Isa Vulagi lasa Dina, a traditional farewell, sung to treasure a good time together.

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