Royal family visits to the Kruger National Park.
The British Royal family consisting of King George IV, the Queen Elizabeth and the two princess Elizabeth and Margaret spent two months in South Africa as guests of Genl. Jan Smuts the then Prime Minister, who invited them invited to come and relax in our country after the stress of WWII.
They arrived in Cape Town on 17 February 1947 on the HMS Vanguard. They travelled 16000 kms during their visit which lasted until 29 April 1947. Most of their travelling was done in the White Train.
The Prime Minister was the host for most of the time. Due to poor health Mrs. Issy Smuts could not accompany the group. The then Administrator of the Transvaal Genl. JJ Pienaar was responsible for much planning of their visit in the Transvaal, which included a visit to the KNP and the Transvaal Lowveld.
The party visited the Kruger National Park end March 1947, travelling and staying in the White Train which was parked at the Huhla halt (one km. north of Skukuza) just north of Sabie Bridge.
Huhla – corruption of the Tsonga word “nhutlwa” - (giraffe). This halt became redundant with the building of the new line between Newington and Kaapmuiden during the 1970s.
The Royal Family stayed in the train while other members of the group were accommodated in six new guesthouses on the southern banks of the Sabie River.
Col. JHB Sandenbergh the newly appointed Warden of the Park thought it better if his predecessor, the now retired Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton would be their guide.
Col. Stevenson-Hamilton returned to Skukuza for the few days of the duration of the Royal visit, needless to say, it was a very enjoyable and informative time for the Royal Family.
I worked for a man, George Barrie, who was a young boy at the time of the Royal Visit. His father was a vet in the KNP and he grew up there, of course, and he was one of the young people selected to meet the princesses. He said that one of the main selection criteria was whether the children could speak English or not.