You are currently viewing May 2021

May 2021

Object Title: Tea Set

Object Number: 2015.11.1-33

A tribute to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh

This fancy teapot is part of a 33 piece tea set purchased and sent to South Georgia in preparation for the anticipated visit of HRH Duke of Edinburgh, the first royal visit to the island. After a trip to Australia to open the Olympic games, Prince Philip set out on a tour of the Antarctic in 1957 on board the Royal Yacht Britannia.

The tour visited several British stations in the South Shetland Islands and Graham Land which were then part of the Falkland Island Dependencies. Travelling back from the Antarctic circle,  the tour arrived in South Georgia on 12 January 1957.  The new RRS John Biscoe carried HRH Duke of Edinburgh for part of the journey with HMS Protector providing an escort.

The Royal Yacht Britannia in company with HMS Protector in Antarctic waters. © IWM

The RRS John Biscoe was built for the Falkland Island Dependencies Survey (FIDS). Originally set up to provide an active presence in the Antarctic, FIDS was extended to four research stations to focus on polar science. From 1962 it was known as the British Antarctic Survey. The ship was designed to operate as a cargo vessel to supply these Antarctic research stations but also provided support to marine surveys. The RRS John Biscoe was only launched in 1956 and so the tour formed part of her maiden voyage.

The Duke of Edinburgh on the bridge of the whaler catcher, Southern Jester. Image ©IWM


The RRS John Biscoe







The official visit to South Georgia started at Leith Harbour for a tour of the Salvesen whaling station then continued onto the smaller station of Husvik. Here Prince Philip boarded a whaler catcher called Southern Jester to travel the 20 miles along the coast to King Edward Cove. Here he received a 21 gun salute fired by several whale catchers, from their harpoon cannons using black powder.
Whale catchers fire a gun salute
Image Courtesy of John Alexander








His Royal Highness visited the government station at King Edward Point with a short walk to the Sir Ernest Shackleton memorial cross at Hope Point. Next stop was the Pesca whaling station and factory at Gryviken, where he watched two fin whales being flensed. The final stop was a short visit to Shackleton’s grave site at the whalers cemetery.
A 6p stamp depicts HRH Prince Phillip visiting the Shackleton Memorial in 1957. Part of a set to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 1977

The flensing plan at Grytviken. Kenelm Pierce-Butler, the manager of the company Pesca briefs HRH Prince Philip