Remembering Prince Philip’s 1956 Penang visit


‘A great day’: With his old camera in the foreground, Hwang points to a photograph of Prince Philip in his album of prized snapshots taken during the Duke’s historic visit to Malaysia. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: It was so long ago, but retired teacher Hwang Hong Shi, 86, clearly remembers being there when Prince Philip came to Penang.

It was Oct 31,1956, and Malaya was still under British rule.

Hwang remembers crowds waiting at the jetty and children lining the streets along Peel Avenue to cheer for Prince Philip’s motorcade.

Hwang, who was then an English teacher at Westland School, holds dear the photos he took of the Prince’s visit to the Governor’s house, then known as The Residency, and Penang Free School.

The octogenarian said it was an exciting experience when a person of his calibre visited Penang.

“It was pre-Independence and Malaya was still under the British regime.

“People were excited that royalty was visiting from England.

“Members of the Scouts Association, who had been invited to showcase their activities at The Residency, played games to amuse the Prince.

“The Duke of Edinburgh then went to Penang Free School, where he planted a Casuarina sapling, ” Hwang said when met at his home in Sungai Nibong here.

Hwang added that he watched the tree-planting ceremony from a distance.

Among the prized photos, many were taken himself. Some were snapped by others using his camera.

“We were originally anxious as the scouts were from two schools and we were unsure if they could coordinate their activities.

“I was a King Scout and was asked to oversee the preparations.

“It turned out to be a great day with good memories, ” he said.

Hwang has photos of Prince Philip arriving at the jetty, visiting The Residency and planting the Casuarina sapling.

He said he was saddened by the Prince’s passing, remembering him as someone who travelled the world to promote goodwill and harmony.

“He did plenty for society and I am happy to have some of the memories, ” he said.

Prince Philip died last week at the age of 99. His funeral will be held at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle today.

Philip, who spent 73 years at the side of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, visited Penang in 1956 during his solo world tour.

Hwang, who was a physical education and English teacher for 37 years, has chalked up 55 years of voluntary service after retirement, offering free English classes.

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