Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 June 2019

A guest of honour: When Sheikh Zayed attended London's Trooping the Colour in 1969

The Founding Father was the guest of honour 50 years before Prince Louis of Cambridge made an appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony

Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father, arrives at Heathrow Airport at the start of his first official visit to Britain in June 1969. Getty Images
Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father, arrives at Heathrow Airport at the start of his first official visit to Britain in June 1969. Getty Images

This week, Prince Louis of Cambridge, the third and youngest child of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, was carried out on to the Buckingham Palace balcony for the first time ever. The little royal, who was sporting the same outfit his uncle Prince Harry had when he was a lad, waved happily as regiments of the British and Commonwealth armies paraded past in the Trooping the Colour ceremony. It is an event that has been held annually since 1748 and which marks Queen Elizabeth II’s official birthday.

On June 14, 1969, that same occasion in London welcomed another very special guest: Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father. He had travelled to England four days earlier, landing at Heathrow Airport in the UK’s capital. In this picture we can see Sheikh Zayed stepping off a BOAC flight, descending from his first-class cabin, to begin his official state visit to Britain.

Sheikh Zayed was welcomed with all the pomp and ceremony you would expect to be shown to a world leader visiting the country. Sheikh Zayed looked calm, collected and dignified as he walked into what would be some serious discussions about the archaic treaties that effectively gave the UK much control over the foreign affairs of Abu Dhabi.

The previous year, Harold Wilson’s Labour government said it would dissolve such treaties and withdraw Britain’s armed forces from the region by December 2, 1971, a date that has been celebrated as the UAE’s National Day ever since.

Updated: June 12, 2019 04:32 PM

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