King Victor Emmanuel III's Visit to Aden, 1934

In October 1934, Aden witnessed the historic visit of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, a significant event given the political climate of the time. The king's journey to the British colony of Aden was part of a larger trip to Italian Somaliland, reflecting the intricate balance of power and influence among European colonial powers in the region.

Arrival and Reception

King Victor Emmanuel III’s arrival was marked by a ceremonial 21-gun salute from H.M.S. Penzance, a gesture befitting his royal status. The king was aboard his yacht, the Savoia, escorted by Admiral Miraglia in the cruiser Gorizia, signifying the importance of this visit. The Chief Commissioner of Aden, Sir Bernard Reilly, along with the Italian Consul, extended their greetings to His Majesty aboard the Savoia, showcasing the diplomatic courtesies extended to visiting monarchs.

The Royal Tour in Aden

The following day, Sir Bernard Reilly and the King embarked on a tour of Aden. This included a visit to the Prince of Wales Pier, where a guard of honour consisting of 100 men from the Aden Protectorate Levies was presented, a testament to the significance of the visit. The Italian Consul introduced members of the Italian community in Aden to the King, highlighting the presence and influence of Italians in the colony.

Visiting the Italian Salt Works

One of the key highlights of the King’s visit was his tour of the Italian Salt Works. This visit underscored Italy’s commercial interests in the region and showcased the economic activities of Italians in Aden. The tour of the Sheikh Othman Oasis further demonstrated the integration of Italian interests within the British colony, illustrating the complex colonial dynamics of the time.

Departure and VIP Escort

King Victor Emmanuel III’s visit was brief yet impactful. He returned to the Savoia before lunch and departed at noon. In a display of respect and diplomatic protocol, his departure was escorted by nine RAF aircraft from 8 Squadron, a standard VIP escort gesture akin to the military and naval gun salutes.

Reflections on the Visit

King Victor Emmanuel III’s visit to Aden in 1934 is a remarkable episode that illustrates the interplay of European colonial powers in the region. It was a display of diplomatic relations, colonial interests, and the respect accorded to monarchs even in foreign territories. This event, set against the backdrop of rising tensions and shifting alliances leading up to World War II, offers a glimpse into the complexities of colonial politics and the role of figures like King Victor Emmanuel III in shaping international relations during that era.

The King visits the saltworks.30th October 1934.