Queen Elizabeth in Ceylon in 1954 in Pictures

The Queen and Prince Philip visited the island of Ceylon in 1954 and participated in striking ceremonies in Colombo, Kandy and Peradeniya University. The Senate Building at Peradeniya University was formally ‘consecrated’; and the Queen also visited the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. The Queen also visited the famous Trinity College with the Mayor of Kandy (EL Senanayake) as Aide of Honour. Here she honoured and was honoured by the Trinity cadet corps …. a set of actions that reminds us of the “Empire loyalism” that had prompted a number of Westernised Sri Lankans to enlist in the British armed forces during World War I as well as World War II (a topic recently documented** in the new illustrated book edited by Kumar Kirinde et al — entitled Volunteers from Ceylon ………………………………………….. (https://thuppahis.com/2022/09/02/fighting-dying-for-britain-during-the-two-world-wars/) and also referred to earlier in a book where I was the chief hand, namely, People Inbetween (Ratmalana, Sarvodaya Publishers, 1989, pp. 114-119 & 121ff ) ………….  MICHAEL ROBERTS

The Mayor of Kandy, Mr. E.L. Senanayake escorting the Queen through the College premises (College car park at present)








The Queen receiving a bouquet from young Ratwatte  … & the royal couple honoured by the Trinity Cadet Corps


Proceeding to the Senate Building at Peradeniya University with Lord Soulbury as ‘Aide’ ……………

…. and indulging in a relaxed visit to the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens





The royal couple at Colombo Town Hall with Mayor Rudra …..& at a function at the JR Jayewardene Centre














A STRAY PHOTO …. location & event unidentified

** Retd Brig. Hiran Halnagode has informed me that in 1917 the Times of Ceylon estimated that 1250 Ceylonese had volunteered for overseas service in the First World War and that “during WW 2 there were over 6000 volunteers who served under the British in overseas theatres” (email note). Kumar Kirinde provided the following figures with page citations from the book Volunteers from Ceylon. 

WW I – Volunteers from Ceylon 1,250….page 6
WWII – Volunteers for Ceylon Defence Force 14,900 …page 56
          – Volunteers for British Army 6,000 (2,000 served in Ceylon and 4,000                  served overseas)…page 57
          – Volunteers for Ceylon Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve 1,200…page 58
          – Volunteers who joined the RAF – 60 plus..page 135
Note that young men from such colleges as Kingswood & Trinity in Kandy and Wesley, Royal and S. Thomas in Colombo were leading elements in these acts of “Empire-loyalism (my conceptualization).






Kirinde et al:  Volunteers from Ceylon, Ragama, Naval Printing Unit, 2022, ISBN 978-624-6207-01-4

Michael Roberts, Perc Colin-Thome & Ismeth Raheem: People Inbetween, 1989, Ratmalana, Sarvodaya Publishers.


EMAIL COMMENT from MEVAN PIERIS of S. Thomas’ College, Colombo on 12 September 2022:

“Thanks Michael. Read with interest. She was a lovely lady in every respect. She has departed after weathering many palace upheavals. She remained the cornerstone of the United Kingdom and commanded the respect of the whole world. She wore many crowns of glistening diamonds, but as the great poet Tagore has said, no one can avoid a visit from the greatest visitor of all – Death; and when death visits one question is asked of all. “What have you to offer me ?”. The answer Tagore was ready to give was ” I lay at your feet all the honours, awards, trophies, and medals I have received and would follow Thee, bringing nothing with me”. The Great Queen would now come face to face with the King of all, wearing a Crown of Thorns. “

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One response to “Queen Elizabeth in Ceylon in 1954 in Pictures

  1. Sanath Jayatilaka

    You have shown rubbing of shoulders with Royalty, typical Lankan, but failed to tell the readers the roll she played during the world war when she was in the battle field

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