MILWAUKEE — Did you know that Queen Elizabeth II's royal yacht once steamed past Milwaukee in 1959? Escorted by six destroyers, the "Britannia" sailed past Milwaukee, on its way from Chicago to Sault Ste. Marie during a royal world tour.
- Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-serving monarch, dead at 96
- Who is next in line for the British throne?
- How Queen Elizabeth II shaped history over nearly a century
On board was Her Majesty the Queen and her husband Prince Phillip. While the royal couple did not step foot in Milwaukee, their boat was indeed in sight and TMJ4-TV sailed out that day to film the entourage. The date was July 7, 1959.
Almost a month before, on June 18, 1959, 33-year-old Queen Elizabeth II started a 45-day tour of about 15,000-mile across the British Empire. That included the Canadian providences along the Great Lakes.
The Wisconsin Marine Historical Society says after a day of festivities in Chicago, the royal couple boarded the Britannia and took the unusual course for a vessel cruising the Great Lakes by passing within sight of Milwaukee, about a mile and three quarters away from shore.
A number of small boats carrying Milwaukee residents sailed out for a closer look, the society says, despite the best efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard to keep them away. Milwaukee's fireboat at the time, called the "Deluge", even gave a "nautical salute" by launching more than 50 tons of water every minute into the air. A delegation of city leaders also came out to greet the British royalty, though neither the queen nor her husband acknowledged them, according to the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society.
The Britannia is now stored in Edinburgh, Scotland and has become a popular tourist attraction.
Queen Elizabeth II died on Thursday at the age of 96, ending a reign of more than 70 years.