KIRO 7 coverage of Queen Elizabeth II and her visit to Seattle in 1983

·2 min read

On a soggy Seattle day in 1983, after an invitation from President Ronald Reagan, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philips arrived on March 7, 1983.

Jack Gordon, the “official greeter” for Seattle, served as the chairman of the Royal Visit, arriving on Air Force One.

Courtesy - jackgordon.org
Courtesy - jackgordon.org

Gordon was no stranger to important visits, as he arranged visits to the Emerald City for Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan.

In photos saved by Jack’s son John, the Queen is shown carrying her own umbrella as Gordon holds an umbrella for Washington Gov. John Spellman.

John recalls being there during her arrival and carrying the Washington State’s First Lady’s purse.

Courtesy - jackgordon.org
Courtesy - jackgordon.org

People who were lucky enough to receive an invitation from Gov. Spellman with the state seal to the Royal Reception at Seattle’s Westin Hotel, were invited to a reception on Monday, March 7, 1983, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 pm.

Courtesy - jackgordon.org
Courtesy - jackgordon.org

The official invite required guests in dark suits or a cocktail dress.

Gov. Spellman escorted the Queen into the reception promptly at 4:30 p.m.

Courtesy - jackgordon.org
Courtesy - jackgordon.org

After the reception, a select number of Seattle area dignitaries were not only invited to meet privately with the Queen and Prince Philip aboard their royal yacht, the Brittania, but they were also presented with an autographed photo of the Royal Couple.

Courtesy - jackgordon.org
Courtesy - jackgordon.org

Queen Elizabeth II also visited the Hec Edmundson Pavilion, where some 8,500 people waited.

According to the University of Washington, the pavilion was decorated with red carpet, large British and U.S. flags, white chrysanthemums and several living trees that were native to Washington.

More than 500 faculty dressed in their alma mater’s robes as trumpets announced the Queen’s arrival, escorted by UW President William Gerberding.

Queen Elizabeth spoke to the crowd about the lasting ties between Great Britain and the U.S., even cracking a joke about the “Pig War,” a conflict that started over a stray pig in the San Juan Islands in 1859.

As she spoke, the 412-foot Brittania was docked in Elliott Bay, where divers were making certain there was no threat of danger.

“I am delighted that at last I have been given the opportunity to visit the other Washington, and particularly the city of Seattle,” she said. “We have had a wonderful and enjoyable journey.”

Queen Elizabeth also visited Children’s Orthopedic Hospital and the Seattle Center flag pavilion, where approximately 5,000 people greeted her.