When did Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visit Hong Kong and what did they see? Did she back a winner at the races?

A historic moment for Hong Kong as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip arrive at Kai Tak Airport, becoming the first reigning British monarch to visit the then colony in May 1975. Photo: SCMP

Queen Elizabeth, the world’s longest reigning monarch, visited Hong Kong twice while the city was a British territory. Her first visit was in May 1975 and was so successful that it later inspired the building of a sports stadium. Her second visit came in October 1986.

Drizzle could not dampen the glittering street procession honouring Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Photo: SCMP

The queen’s visit in 1975 marked the first time a reigning British monarch had visited the city. She arrived with her husband Prince Philip for a four-day visit on May 4 to an enthusiastic welcome of Gurkha pipers, flag-waving crowds and gun salutes, as described by the South China Morning Post at the time.

The first colour image used in the Post, dated May 5, 1975 showing the visit of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip. Photo: SCMP

Commemorative stamps and coins were issued to mark the occasion and the Post published a royal souvenir pull-out on May 8 under the headline “Queen’s charm captured colony’s heart”, with the issue’s front cover featuring the first colour image published in the paper.

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Queen Elizabeth at a hawker stall in Central, May 1975. Photo: SCMP
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip at Queen's Pier during their visit to Hong Kong, May 4, 1975. Photo: SCMP

The queen and her husband Prince Philip saw the whole spectrum of Hong Kong society at the time – hawkers, soldiers, taipans, public servants, reporters, students, estate residents, jockeys, shareholders and, above all, children, reported the Post.

Queen Elizabeth leaving for Government House in a limousine after a welcoming ceremony at City Hall, May 4, 1975. Photo: SCMP

The royal couple packed in City Hall, Morse Park, Oi Man Estate, Hung Hom railway station, the University of Hong Kong, the Kwai Chung container terminal, industrial areas in Tsuen Wan and Happy Valley racecourse during their four-day visit.

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Queen Elizabeth talks to staff during a tour of the University of Hong Kong. Photo: SCMP
Winning jockey Peter Cheam presents a bouquet to Queen Elizabeth at the Happy Valley Racecourse. Photo: SCMP

Hong Kong also put on the first fireworks display since the 1967 riots for the royals on their last night. They left for Japan the morning of May 7.

In October 1986, Queen Elizabeth paid her second visit to Hong Kong on her way back from China, having become the first British monarch to visit the country. It was two years after the signing of the Joint Declaration between Britain and China so an apt time for a friendly visit from the monarch. While in the country, she saw the terracotta warriors in Xian and visited the Great Wall of China, Shanghai, Kunming and Guangzhou.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip meet military veterans at the Cenotaph in Statue Square, accompanied by Governor Sir Edward Youde, October 1986. Photo: SCMP

She arrived in Hong Kong from China aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia on October 21, 1986 and was welcomed with brass bands, water-spouting fireboats and all the pomp and pageantry befitting a queen. She inspected the honour guard then rode through the streets of Kowloon to flag-waving crowds along Salisbury and Chatham Roads, and visited students at the then-Hong Kong Polytechnic.

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A student at then-Hong Kong Polytechnic explains a model to Queen Elizabeth during her visit to the college's technology and community care displays in October 1986. Photo: SCMP

Again, there were special coins minted and stamps issued to mark the occasion. Her China tour outshone this second visit to Hong Kong but a highlight for the queen came with her visit to Sha Tin Race Course which had just been expanded for the QEII Cup.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip meet guests at the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club in Sha Tin, October 1986. Photo SCMP

A day at the races is still a favourite pastime for the queen and on this occasion, legendary jockey Tony Cruz was presented to her. This was the queen’s last visit to her colony which was returned to China in 1997.

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On the first visit by a reigning British monarch, her majesty visited Kwai Chung container terminal, industrial areas in Tsuen Wan and Happy Valley racecourse