Photos: A look back at Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to California in 1983
Queen Elizabeth the II, who turns 90 today, visited the West Coast of the United States for the first time in February and March of 1983. Her trip started in San Diego and moved north from there: to Los Angeles for a meeting with then-Mayor Tom Bradley, to Santa Barbara to meet then-President Reagan, and on to San Francisco, Sacramento, Yosemite and finally Seattle. She then went on to Victoria, British Columbia.
These Los Angeles Times photographs document parts of Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to California.
The queen at Yosemite
The queen’s visit to Yosemite was marred by the deaths of three U.S. Secret Service agents in a head-on collision with a Mariposa County Sheriff’s Department car. The agents, part of a detail protecting the queen, were driving around a curve on Highway 132 when they crashed, The Times reported then. They were George P. LaBarge, 41, of Ohio; Donald A. Bejcek, 29, of Chicago; and Donald W. Robinson, 38, of Newark, N.J.
The queen with the president
A storm was howling and dumping rain on the Santa Barbara coastline when the queen arrived for a trip to President Ronald Reagan’s retreat at 2,400 feet up in the mountains. It was “an extremely hazardous venture by any standard,” The Times reported. “A narrow, twisting, steep obstacle course of flooded streams, washed-out sections, downed tree limbs and falling boulders.” A Chevrolet Suburban got the president and the queen up the hill: “She found the trip delightful and terribly exciting,” Elizabeth’s press secretary was quoted as saying.
The queen meets Mayor Tom Bradley
While in Los Angeles, Elizabeth met Mayor Tom Bradley. In a speech at City Hall, she defended Britain’s actions in the Falkland Islands, praised Los Angeles’ diversity and economy, and even got in a joke (recounted in a Page 1 article Feb. 28, 1983).
The queen lightheartedly reminded Los Angeles residents that her northward journey from San Diego this weekend paralleled a similar trip made 400 years ago by Sir Francis Drake “who (unsuccessfully) claimed this territory as Nova Albion for the first Queen Elizabeth and for the queen’s successors forever.
“I am happy, though, to give you an immediate assurance, Mr. Mayor, that I have not come here to press that claim.”
The queen with a spaceship
On the same day as her speech at City Hall, the queen saw a bit of exploration history: a mock-up of the space shuttle and the Apollo 14 command module at Rockwell International in Downey.
The queen with the stars
On the second day of her trip, though it was still raining, the stars came out. “Center of Attention Everywhere,” The Times’ headline read, “Queen the Star — From Church to Hollywood.”
In attendance at the event above — on the set of “MASH,” which was airing its final episode that night — were Elton John, Fred Astaire, Bette Davis, Jimmy Stewart, LAPD Chief Daryl Gates, Cesar Romero and Vin Scully, among others. The Times reported that Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Dionne Warwick and George Burns performed.
The queen and the prince
Although this image is from the beginning of the trip, it’s a fitting way to finish. Elizabeth II has been back to the United State several times since 1983, but her journeys haven’t brought her to the West Coast.
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