CNH Tours - Cultural and Natural Heritage Tours Galapagos
Saturday April 10, 2021
When Prince Philip Visited Galapagos
This article appeared yesterday in VISTAZO, a weekly variety magazine in Ecuador, following the death of Prince Philip. He was a nature conservation champion, having played a leading role in establishing the World Wide Fund for Nature in 1961, and indirectly supporting the creating of the Charles Darwin Foundation. Thanks to Google Translate for the English language version (with a few minor edits from CNH Tours).
WHEN PRINCE PHILIP BECAME ENAMORED WITH ECUADOR AND GALAPAGOS
On the morning of Saturday, February 17, 1964, an unexpected commotion broke out in the streets of Quito. It was about the arrival of a figure who had never been to the country before and who, at that time, was surrounded by an extremely romantic aura, as the chronicles of that time narrate. Ecuador welcomed Prince Philip, consort of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom with open arms.
Philip spent a few days in Quito and then went to the Galapagos Islands, one of the country's greatest heritages, and the cradle of Charles Darwin's wildlife exploration, which led him to create the recognized theory of human evolution.
The prince, very interested in the conservation and research of wildlife, decided to visit the territory, of which today there is a tangible memory: on Genovesa Island, some steps were baptized under the name of Prince Philip's Steps.
Below: Prince Philip and what appear to be petrels or shearwaters.
(photo: Royal Post)
ARRIVAL IN QUITO
An article in Glance from that time narrates that the prince's passage through the streets of Quito was "a triumphant walk." The women threw flowers at him from their balconies and smiled warmly, a gesture the man returned.
“While it is true that the strict rules of protocol prevented this visit from being what the Duke really wanted - a fellowship visit - the three days that His Highness spent in Quito always provided ways for the public who observed him to realize of his intention” narrated Adela Egas G.
A series of measures were applied during the stay of the Duke of Edinburgh, among which are restrictions for the press and the lack of the gala ball, so common in the visits of the monarchs to other countries. However, Philip made three occasions and in each one of them people gathered to see him, greet him, and shout some words of friendship in doubtful English.
The duke was staying in the presidential suite of the Hotel Quito [CNH Tours note: We consider the Hotel Quito “the grand old dame of Quito hotels still today”], which was redecorated by orders of the chancellery and the British embassy, with carpets and paintings of national edges, which the prince would later have praised. In addition, 4 telephones were installed, one of them with a direct connection to London, a complete security assessment was carried out on the premises, the hotel's “Beach Club” was closed and a guard was installed in the elevator.
In the midst of the boorish English among his official retinue, he provided the only human note, always ready for friendship. At no time did he adopt poses that could give an idea of presumption or pride and in all the acts that he attended he tried to talk to as many people as possible, he asked them questions regarding themselves and their personal occupations" said Egas.
Despite the protocol, Philip took time to practice his favorite sport: polo. He also would have wanted to go down to the Casino and the Rondador Hall of the Hotel Quito to entertain himself, but again, the chroniclers of that time attribute to the rigid protocol that the Duke could not carry out these activities.
"I have seen many of the famous cities in the world, but I have never been welcomed in one so fascinating, and settled in such a wonderful setting as Quito," said Philip during a visit to the Quito town hall, before leaving for Galapagos.
According to a New York Times note at the time, the main objective of the Prince's visit was to study the work of the Charles Darwin Biological Station, inaugurated in January 1964. The station seeks to prevent the extinction of many species of animals, reptiles and native birds of Galapagos.
Philip traveled several kilometers over the rugged volcanic terrain of several islands, and in commemoration of his visit, the steps of a rock formation on Genovesa Island were called “Prince Philip's Steps”.
This structure is extremely steep and according to traveler reviews, they take some effort to climb them [CNH Tours note: They are not that bad frankly]. There have even been reports of tourists who have slipped and one fell into the sea.
Below: Negotiating the Prince Philip's Steps on Genovesa Island
Finally, the Duke of Edinburgh set sail on the Yacht Britania for Panama, where he would spend two days.
After his visit, Prince Philip became a sponsor of the Charles Darwin Foundation, and in 2009 he unveiled this life-size bronze statue of Charles Darwin at the University of Cambridge.
In that same year, Prince Charles, son of Philip and Queen Elizabeth; and Duchess Camilla of Cornwall, were in the Galapagos as part of a tour of South America. Carlos took as a souvenir one of the famous Panama hats, which are actually made in Ecuador.