60th Anniversary of the Royal Visit to College Park!

By: Alan Wierdak

Sixty years ago today, Queen Elizabeth II visited the University of Maryland to attend her first and only college football game on October 19, 1957, between the Maryland Terrapins and the North Carolina Tar Heels! While touring Canada and the United States, the Queen wanted to see a typical American sport, and with College Park’s close proximity to Washington, DC, University President Elkins notified Governor McKeldin, who wrote Sir Harold Caccia, Ambassador of Great Britain, inviting Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip to attend a football game at the University of Maryland!

How did the university prepare for the Queen? How did students view the Queen’s visit to campus? How did students view the university at the time of the Royal Visit?

In preparation of the Queen’s game, university carpenters constructed a special box for the Queen and her party to view the game, while the University of Maryland’s “Black & Gold” band also took over the ROTC drill field to begin preparing for a “typical” half-time show. “They are making room for almost 140 extra press photographers, and newspapers all over the country will carry pictures of her here at Maryland,” said SGA President Howard Miller ahead of the game, suggesting that the Queen’s visit would bring additional publicity and prestige to the university. Additionally, Miller recalled that the SGA met with the State Department ahead of the game to discuss where the Queen should sit. The SGA suggested that she sit on the North Carolina side so she could watch the Card section at half-time and because alcohol consumption at Maryland football games was considered “a major sport in the 1950s.”

The issue of the Diamondback before the royal visit was predominantly dedicated to the Queen’s visit. On behalf of the student body, faculty, and administration, the Diamondback extended a “most enthusiastic welcome,” to the Queen and royal party, seeing the Queen’s visit as an opportunity to “strengthen the good will existing between the United States and Great Britain,” trusting that the Queen will find as much entertainment and excitement during her stay as the university will. Speaking for “just about everybody” on campus, the Queen’s visit was highly anticipated, something the university was collectively very proud of. Anticipating the game, SGA President Howard Miller felt the Queen’s visit was “the greatest thrill of my life,” President Elkins thought the Queen’s visit “created more interest in any college or university than anything I have ever seen in my lifetime,” adding that the University is “delighted” to host the Queen. When addressing the possibility of any “unfortunate events” occurring during the Queen’s visit, President Elkins warned students: “If there is any question, one ought not to do it!”

How were students supposed to behave? If encountering the Queen and Prince Philip, were there specific codes of conduct to follow? The State Department suggested how to behave if students should be presented before the Queen. For students, “how do you do?” was considered a suitable greeting, suggesting that students address the Queen and Prince Philip as “madam,” or “sir,” instead of “Queen,” or “Prince.”

Diamondback Cover - 10-18-1957
Front page of the Diamondback the day before the Queen’s Game, October 18, 1957.

And then, on Game Day, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrived at Byrd Stadium around 1:15pm. All fans were asked to be in their seats by 1pm to await the royal arrival. Maryland halfback and co-captain Jack Healy recalled posing for photographs before meeting the Queen. “Naturally, we were nervous and this increased the pressure somewhat,” said Healy, but their nerves were eased by a welcoming Prince Philip, who, with a “Hello sparkle,” in his eyes, extended his hand and introduced himself to the team. Then, according to Healy, the team met Queen Elizabeth, who “looked like any typical American woman,” only distinguished by her “precious English accent.” Each team’s captains then presented the Queen and Prince Philip with an autographed football and a replica of the coin used in the game’s coin toss. Prince Philip, “humbly accepting” the autographed football, said “I feel like kicking it myself!”

During the game, the Queen “leaned forward eagerly” as the Governors and President Elkins explained American football to their royal guests. According to President Elkins, the Queen was “most interested in the difference between the English Rugby and the American game.” According to a commonwealth correspondent from the game, “if the Queen understands this game, she’s smarter than I think she is.”

And then, at halftime, after the teams rushed off the field, the North Carolina band presented “A Parade of North Carolina Industries,” highlighted by band members forming a giant banjo, while trumpeting “Dixie.” According to President Elkins’ daughter Carole, there was a ceremony with gift presentations, the Queen and Prince Philip were driven around the stadium’s track, and marching bands from both teams performed. The bands from both schools joined to form the Queen’s crest, spell out “USA-BRIT”, and perform each school’s alma mater, “God Save the Queen,” and the “Star Spangled Banner.” The card section displayed both the American and British flags. Queen Elizabeth II, commenting on “the drive of the band,” was also “quite pleased with the card section,” according to President Elkins.

According to Howard Miller’s account of the Queen’s Game, with only minutes left in the 4th quarter, the announcer at Byrd Stadium asked the crowd to remain in their seats so the Queen and Prince Philip could leave first to attend dinner with President Eisenhower. The Queen’s motorcade entered the stadium, and the Queen left before “a full house broke for the exits.” Miller recalled “never had so many Marylanders showed so much courtesy.” Nick Kovalakides, class of ’61, who was unable to attend the game due to illness, was listening to the game on the radio while recovering in his Montgomery Hall dorm, when he heard that the Queen was leaving early “to avoid the crunch of fans after the game.” Hearing this, Kovalakides went outside in case the Queen’s motorcade traveled on Regents Drive past Montgomery Hall. As Kovalakides sat on the steps, feeling “like everyone else in the world was at the game except me,” the Queen’s motorcade appeared over the hill. Seeing the Queen in the back seat of the limo, Kovalakides stood and waved. The Queen waved back. Remembering the event, Kovalakides said “in seconds, she was gone. But not in my mind.”

As the game ended, the triumphant Terps hoisted Coach Tommy Mont on their shoulders and ran across the field to where the Queen was seated. When presented to the Queen, she replied by saying “wonderful, wonderful.” For Coach Mont, immediately after the win he said “I’m going to revel in this for the rest of my life.” In the issue following the game, the Diamondback selected the entire Maryland football team as Players-of-the-Week.

Photographs and artifacts from the Queen’s Game are on display in McKeldin Library through January 2018. Be sure to check out our exhibit cases on the first floor, near Footnotes Cafe! We’ve decorated the second floor Portico Room (across the walkway from the Terrapin Tech Desk) with images from the game as well. 

 

Author Bio

Alan Wierdak is a graduate student in History and Library Science. He has worked in Special Collections and University Archives since summer 2017.

Visit New Football Exhibit

Calling all Terps fans! A new exhibit in Hornbake Library’s Maryland Room features a selection of photos, programs, pennants, uniforms, and more from the University Archives’ collections commemorating the football team’s 125th year. From the team’s humble beginning in 1892 to today, our Maryland Terrapins have created many memorable moments including 11 conference championships, 27 […]

via New exhibit celebrates 125 years of Maryland football — Special Collections and University Archives at UMD

UMD123: 1957

1957 represents a very special year in University of Maryland history!

On this day, 59 years ago, just four years after her coronation, Queen Elizabeth II visited the University of Maryland. The Queen was on a tour of Canada and the United States in the fall of 1957, and wanted to see a “typical American sport.” Our campus was selected as a spot to watch an American college football game, and so Queen Elizabeth and her consort Prince Philip made their way to Byrd Stadium on a sunny Saturday afternoon to watch the Terps take on the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Program for the Queen's Game
Queen’s Game program cover.

The 1958 Terrapin yearbook staff wrote about the day:

A ‘Royal’ atmosphere produced a royal game today as the spirited Terps struck for three second half touchdowns to defeat Jim Tatum and the favored North Carolina Tar Heels 21-7. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, were among the 45,000 fans who packed Byrd Stadium to see the Terps score an upset.”

See photographs and more memories here, here, and here in the yearbook.

Queen Elizabeth's ticket
Ticket stub from the Queen’s Game.

Thanks to our football film digitization project, you can watch the football game, which includes footage of the Queen and Prince Phillip. Watch the first half and the second half.

See a Universal Newsreel report about the event here.

In 2007, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the game,  local videographer Mike Springirth produced a documentary, “Maryland’s Queen for a Day,” full of interviews with players and coaches from the 1957 team.  You can check out the video from the library here.

Queen Elizabeth with the Terps football captains
Gene Alderton (#51) and Jack Healy (#23), co-captains of the University of Maryland football team, standing with Queen Elizabeth and Governor Theodore McKeldin, October 19, 1957. The Tar Heel captains are to the left in white.

In addition to the resources listed above, you can view lots of other documents, photographs, and realia relating to the Queen’s Game in the UMD Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives. You can find a description of these items here.

Has Queen Elizabeth ever watched another American college football game in person? As far as we know, she has not, so that October afternoon in 1957 is truly a singular experience for the longest-reigning British monarch and female head of state in world history.

This is a post in our series on Terrapin Tales called UMD123! Similar to our “ABC’s of UMD” series in fall 2015, posts in this series will take a look at the university’s history “by the numbers.” New posts will come out monthly; on the Terrapin Tales blog, search “UMD123” or use the UMD123 tag. You can also check out Twitter#UMD123. If you want to learn more about campus history, you can also visit our encyclopedia University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium for more UMD facts.

ABC’s of UMD: Letter Q

Q is for QUEEN’S GAME!

There have been many landmark events in Byrd Stadium–the first Midnight Madness, NCAA men’s lacrosse Final Fours, huge football victories–but none may be more dazzling than the Queen’s Game!

Queen's Game program cover
Queen’s Game program cover

On October 19, 1957, H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited Byrd to watch the Terps defeat the North Carolina Tar Heels 21-7. It was the queen’s first and only American football game, and she thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Maryland Governor Theodore and UMD President Wilson Elkins, the queen’s hosts for the day, spent the afternoon explaining the rules of the game to Her Royal Highness, and many photos of the queen show her relaxed, smiling, and engaged in the action. At one point, she expressed surprise that more players did not get hurt given the game’s violent nature. How do we know that? Well, Life magazine hired a lip reader to watch the queen through binoculars from across the stadium and record her every word!

Ticket stub from the Queen's Game
Ticket stub from the Queen’s Game

The University Archives holds many photographs and documents about the game, which was widely covered in the national and international press, as well as a variety of memorabilia items. You can consult a complete list of these resources here.

You can also watch game-day action from Byrd in the first and second half as part of our historical football footage digitization project, and you can learn more about the events of the big day from Mike Springirth’s documentary “Maryland’s Queen for a Day,” available for viewing in Library Media Services on the ground floor of Hornbake Library.

(left to right) President Elkins, Queen Elizabeth, Governor McKeldin, Mrs. Elkins, and Prince Philip
(left to right) President Elkins, Queen Elizabeth, Governor McKeldin, Mrs. Elkins, and Prince Philip

This is the 17th post in our series on Terrapin Tales called ABC’s of UMD! Posts will come out twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, throughout the semester. If you want to learn more about campus history, check back weekly to see what we’ve picked to highlight, and you can also visit our encyclopedia University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium for more UMD facts.

Do you have other ABC’s about campus? Let us know in the comments below!

Check back on Friday, October 30, for Letter R!

Royal Remembrances

Just a reminder—In conjunction with the University Archives’ current exhibit in McKeldin Library, “Royal Remembrances: Celebrating Maryland’s Queen for a Day,” the Archives will be hosting a special event, “Memories of the Queen’s Game,” on October 3 from 1 to 3:30 PM in the Special Events Room in McKeldin.   The event is open to the entire campus community and will feature recollections from President Elkins’ daughters Carole and Margaret, who sat in the royal box in Byrd Stadium, and two members of the 1957 Terrapin football team, LeRoy Dietrich and Gene Verardi, who played in front of the Queen.  The event begins with a light lunch/tea at 1 PM and concludes with a showing of the hour-long, 2007 documentary, “Maryland’s Queen for a Day,” created by UMD alumnus Mike Springirth to commemorate the 50th anniversary of this landmark game.We hope you will be able to join the UMD Archives staff for this very special afternoon.

To whet your appetite, here are a few details about the big day!

Queen Elizabeth II and Dr. Elkins at football game
Queen Elizabeth II with Dr. Elkins at a UMD football game.

 

On October 19, 1957, just four years after her coronation, Queen Elizabeth II visited the University of Maryland. The Queen was on a tour of Canada and the United States, and wanted to see a “typical American sport.” Our campus was selected as a spot to watch an American college football game, and so Queen Elizabeth and her consort Prince Phillip made their way to Byrd Stadium.

Program for the Queen's Game
Queen’s Game program cover.

The 1958 Terrapin yearbook staff wrote about the day:

A ‘Royal’ atmosphere produced a royal game today as the spirited Terps struck for three second half touchdowns to defeat Jim Tatum and the favored North Carolina Tar Heels 21-7. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, were among the 45,000 fans who packed Byrd Stadium to see the Terps score an upset.”

See photographs and more memories here, here, and here in the yearbook.

Queen Elizabeth's ticket
Ticket stub from the Queen’s Game.

Thanks to our football digitization project, you can watch the football game, which includes footage of the Queen and Prince Phillip. Watch the first half and the second half.

See a Universal Newsreel report about the event here.

If you miss the October 3 event, you can check out Mike Springirth’s full documentary, “Maryland’s Queen for a Day”, from the library here.

The “Royal Remembrances” exhibit will be on display on the first and second floors of McKeldin Library through the end of the fall 2014 semester.

Queen Elizabeth with the Terps football captains
Gene Alderton (#51) and Jack Healy (#23), co-captains of the University of Maryland football team, standing with Queen Elizabeth and Governor Theodore McKeldin, October 19, 1957. The Tar Heel captains are to the left in white.

 

Queen Elizabeth at the Queen's Game

A Very Royal Anniversary

Queen's Game program cover
Here is the cover from the Queen’s Game program cover!

55 years ago today, the University of Maryland hosted Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, in Byrd Stadium to watch the Terps trounce the Tar Heels 21-7. The royal couple, visiting with President Eisenhower at the White House, expressed an interest in seeing a typical American sport, and fortunately the Terps were in town during their stay.

Queen Elizabeth at the Queen's Game
Queen Elizabeth II enjoys the game in the stands. In her row, from left to right: University of Maryland President Wilson Elkins, the Queen, Governor Theodore McKeldin, Mrs. Dorothy Elkins, and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

The day was filled with great pomp and ceremony.  Over 43,000 fans filled the stadium, decorated with the flags of the Commonwealth nations, and greeted the Queen with a tremendous round of applause.  The governors of Maryland and North Carolina served as her official hosts, and Maryland Governor Theodore R. McKeldin (yes, that McKeldin!) and University President Wilson Elkins tutored the Queen on the finer points of American football throughout the game.  The Queen’s Game, as this event has come to be known, was covered by the international press, and by all accounts, Her Majesty enjoyed the game immensely.

Queen Elizabeth and President Elkins
President Elkins informs the Queen on the finer points of American football.

The University Archives holds many documents, photographs, and pieces of memorabilia chronicling this landmark day in UMD history.  A complete listing of these materials may be found here.  You may also watch footage of the game and the hoopla surrounding the Queen: part 1 and part 2. Don’t forget your hat!