Governor gets into swing of things as Navy beats retreat
It was a night of formality, royalty and tradition, but that did not stop the Governor from giving his own crowd-pleasing twist to the territory's final beating retreat by the Royal Navy.
At the close of the moving 30-minute military display, Chris Patten and his wife Lavender hopped over a barricade and shook hands with some of the 300 guests who had come to be a part of history.
'The tradition of beating retreat began in the Middle Ages. Historically, fighting only took place during the daylight hours and the drummers signalled the end the day,' Royal Marine Lieutenant Chris Hocking said.
'They could retreat and lick their wounds. Now it is used at the close of state functions.' Crowded on the deck with Prince Charles were Lady Thatcher and Sir Denis Thatcher, Madeleine Albright, Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy and 50 other foreign dignitaries.
While the prince barely swayed to the music, Sir Denis pounded the polished brass railing of the grand ship. Lady Thatcher, dressed in deep purple, occasionally broke into a smile.
The emotional evening marked the last time the Royal Marines would beat retreat for the Britannia abroad.