This photograph of then Princess Elizabeth square dancing took place during a visit to Canada in 1951. The press coverage helped spur the rapid growth of square dancing in that country.
In his monthly column, "As I See It" (American Square Dance, October, 1995, p. 75), Bob Osgood passed along information about that event.
We received a pair of letters from Bob and Ruth Pereira, Carp., Ontario, Canada, shedding more light on our May '95 story about the time in 1951 when then Princess Elizabeth square danced at Government House in Ottawa. Here, from his detailed research, is a condensed account of Bob's story.
"The idea of the Royal Square Dance Party originated with the Governor General, Viscount Alexander of Tunis and Lady Alexander who were introduced to square dancing at the 1950 Calgary Stampede and immediately became square dance buffs During their stay at Government House, square dancing was often a featured entertainment and they proposed that as their special 'do' during the two days of official ceremonies of the Royal Tour in Ottawa, Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh be invited to a private square dance party.
"The dance was private in the strictest sense of the word; no press, and special invitations were sent to only 80 guests..." This guest list incidentally read like a who's who of government officialdom.
And how did the royal couple know how to handle the dancing? For one thing, both the Princess and the Duke were carefully "paired up" with others of the invited guests who knew how to square dance. In addition, during the dinner preceding the dance several of the dancers, using lumps of sugar as dancers, explained to the royal couple the elementary points of square dancing. According to A.G.S. "Tony" Griffin, one of the hosting dancers, the couple "caught on very quickly due in part to the pair's knowledge of Highland Dancing."
A special thank you to David Millstone for permission to re-publish this article.
The original article can be found at the Square Dance History website here: