ON an August Saturday morning in 1955 - 65 years ago this week - many motor boats, yachts and other craft were out early on Milford Haven water.

Soon after 8 am, as the sun burst through, the reason for this expectant flotilla became clear – as the new Royal Yacht Britannia hove into view and headed up channel to anchor. Escorting was the frigate HMS Orwell.

This heralded the start of a memorable three-day visit to Pembrokeshire by Her Majesty The Queen and other members of the Royal Family. On board the Britannia were Prince Charles and Princess Anne – their parents arrived on the Royal Train.

Photographs in the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre Archive record the finale to the Queen’s first visit to Pembrokeshire. On Monday August 8, following many other engagements in the county, the royal couple arrived at Pembroke Railway Station to a colourful welcome. The Queen inspected a Guard of Honour from RAF Station Pembroke Dock and drove through Main Street to Pembroke Castle, the pavements lined by crowds and soldiers of The Welch Regiment.

At Pembroke Castle the royals were shown the King Henry VII Tower where the future king was born, before signing the visitors’ book. Then it was back in the Rolls Royce and the short journey through crowd-lined streets to Pembroke Dock and their final destination – the RAF Station in the former dockyard.

It was from the RAF’s pier that the Queen and the Duke embarked on the Royal Barge for the Britannia, their progress watched by crowds allowed inside the RAF Station for the occasion.

Soon after, the Britannia weighed anchor, escorted by HMS Orwell and a fleet of small craft. As the Royal Yacht neared the open sea eight Sunderland flying boats from the resident Pembroke Dock squadrons flew over in formation in farewell salute.

A unique memento of this royal visit is a cigarette box made from the wood of the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert III - launched at Pembroke Dockyard in 1899. It was presented on the Saturday evening to the Mayor of Pembroke Borough, Alderman George Burton, by Rear Admiral Sir Conolly Abel Smith, Flag Officer, Royal Yachts. He explained that the box had been made by a member of Britannia’s crew and it was fitting that, as Pembroke Dock was more associated with royal yachts than any other dockyard, a little piece of a predecessor royal yacht should be presented to the town.

The cigarette box – embossed with the Victoria and Albert crest – is a treasured artefact on display at Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre, courtesy of Pembroke Town Council.

Photographs from the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre Archive.