Today Russell Leadbetter reveals Queen Elizabeth II's link to the city began long before she ascended the throne
FIVE decades before the 1988 Garden Festival focused Britain's attention on Glasgow, the city had another hugely successful exhibition.
The Empire Exhibition occupied Bellahouston Park for six months in 1938, showcasing industry from Glasgow and the west of Scotland and further afield.
It was a huge success, and its attractions – the Palace of Art, the pavilions, the wide boulevards and its modernist architecture attracted 13 million people.
On May 3, the show was opened by the royals – King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Four months later, the Queen was back, as the exhibition's 10 millionth visitor.
And she brought her two young daughters – Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, who were the centre of attention at the exhibition.
Princess Elizabeth, just 12 at the time, had grown up quickly, and had become a presence at royal occasions – including, the previous May, the coronation of her father at Westminster Abbey.
And on Tuesday, September 27, the girls were the centre of attention.
The princesses, dressed in 'rose-pink coats of fine tweed, with wide lapels outlined with white silk braid' – had arrived by train from Ballater and met their mother at Ibrox station.
That same day, the three royals made their way to Clydebank to launch the latest Cunard ship, Queen Elizabeth, from the John Brown yard.
Long before she became Queen in 1952, Princess Elizabeth came to know Glasgow well. Once the war was over, in 1945, she returned.
On September 28, she spoke to 3000 Brownies, Guides and officers at the St Andrew's Halls – and also presented a Bronze Medal for Gallantry to a 13-year-old girl who had saved a baby from drowning in a water tank.
On May 12 the following year, she sailed across the Firth of Clyde from Greenock for a ceremony to bless HMS Vanguard, known as the 'world's greatest battleship' – she had become 'godmother' to the vessel when it was launched, from John Brown's yard, the previous year.
That October, she watched as her mother steered, for a few minutes, the giant liner, Queen Elizabeth, off Arran as it underwent sea trials.
In October 1947, the Princess, accompanied by her fiance, Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten R.N., was back at John Brown's yard to launch another liner – this time it was the Caronia, for the Cunard White Star line.
At Clydebank town hall she received the town's wedding gift – a Singer sewing machine.
The couple married the following month, in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey that provided a welcome splash of colour in drab post-war Britain.
On May 28, 1951, she undertook a heavy schedule on yet another visit to Glasgow – opening a playing-field in Carnwadric, visiting soldiers injured in the Korean war at Cowglen Military Hospital, dropping in on HMS Carrick, then dinner at the Central Hotel followed by a reception at the City Chambers.
"They've given the lassie a hard day of it," more than one Glaswegian was heard to say, sympathetically, at various points throughout her schedule.
The Princess may have been kept busy then – but there would be many more days like it once she became Queen.