He didn’t meet the Queen, alas, but Marlborough’s Nick Fogg did greet the Duke of Edinburgh during yesterday’s diamond jubilee visit to Salisbury – and showed him a photograph of a unique event in royal history.
It was surprisingly something the 90-year-old Duke of Edinburgh remembered, the moment when the late American jazz musician Duke Ellington was presented to the Queen in 1958 on a visit to Leeds.
And it turned out to be a truly special occasion as Ellington was inspired to write the Queen’s Suite, a composition which is to be royally revived at the Marlborough International Jazz Festival in July.
As the jazz festival’s founder, as well as a Marlborough and Wiltshire councillor, Mr Fogg had wanted to show the photograph to Her Majesty, but she and the Duke of Edinburgh split up at the Salisbury celebration.
And it was the Duke who arrived at the medieval jousting tent representing the Marlborough Area Board to be greeted by board chairman Chris Humphries and vice chairman Nick Fogg.
“We invited him in and he quipped, ‘It looks like a pub!’, which I suppose it did as we had the Ramsbury Brewery there inside as one of the stands representing the local area. He was totally charming and extremely friendly – really quite remarkable for someone who is 90.”
“I showed him the Duke Ellington picture in which he also appears. ‘The other one’s the Duke too,’ he recalled. Of course he couldn’t take the photograph with him, but it will be conveyed to the Queen through the Lord Lieutenant’s office.”
And he added: “I had hoped to show this historic photograph to the Queen, as Duke Ellington composed his Queen’s Suite in her honour, and to tell her how we were reviving it here at the Marlborough Jazz Festival.”
“I don’t think she will drop everything and come and listed on July 13, but you never know once she hears about it.”
The royal Salisbury visit brought with it “royal weather”, according to Mr Fogg, the rain clouds dramatically disappearing and the arena where each of Marlborough’s area boards had its own tent was bathed in sunshine.
Inside the Marlborough tent were stands and representatives of Avebury’s world heritage site, the Merchant’s House, the Brandt Group, Action for the Kennet (ARK), Riding for the Disabled and the North Wiltshire Area of Outstanding Beauty.
Their appearance and presentations were organised by Area Board convenor Andrew Jack.
“The weather was gorgeous and it turned out to be a terrific day, a great occasion for all of us,” said Sir John Sykes, chairman of the Merchant’s House. “Jane Scott, the Wiltshire Council leader, said it was like having our own gigantic garden party.”
One centre of attraction in the tent was volunteer Rosalind Martin dressed in period costume as Mrs Bayly, wife of the silk merchant Thomas Bayly, who built the Merchant’s House in 1653.
The splendid costume was specially made for the occasion by Angela Munn.
Also present was Helen Kelly, co-ordinator of ARK’s Care for the Kennet project in Marlborough.
“The Duke of Edinburgh didn’t make it to our stand,” she said.
“He was so engaging with everyone he met. And for me it was a fabulous experience to be part of the diamond jubilee royal visit.”
Marlborough Brandt Group was represented by its founder, Nick Maurice, Kathy Pollard, Alex Davies and long-standing Gambian friend of MBG, Lamin Manjang.
Prince Philip spoke to Kathy who told him about the thirty years of Marlborough’s relationship with Gunjur, in the Gambia. “Been busy then?” he responded, and was then introduced to Lamin Manjang, who was asked if he was returning to the Gambia – Lamin replied that he intended to do so to take up his teaching career again.
After the Royal party left, two car loads of Gambian friends from Bristol arrived with their drums and, with a Gambian Kora player from Oxford and dancing by two Gambian ladies, attracted a good crowd to the tent.
One disappointed person who didn’t make it to Salisbury was Devizes MP Claire Perry because she is still recovering from a minor operation. She obeyed advice not to drive from London to Wiltshire and back in one day.
“I was particularly looking forward to hearing the Salisbury Plain Military Wives Choir sing – they are fantastic,” she said. “It such a huge shame that I was unable to meet the Queen.”
Salisbury pics: Sam Pinkney