National Geographic : 1967 Feb
tunic buttons and badges glinting in the sun, scarlet ribbons tied around white sun helmets. Yachts that had escorted Britanniainto the harbor anchored nearby as floating grand stands. Spectators packed every window and rooftop overlooking Bay Street; Queen Eliza beth II was the first reigning British monarch ever to visit the Bahamas. After descending the gangplank, she walked through lanes of school children to a raised platform for the official welcome. I had a mo ment of worry when the Premier's son, Robert Hallam Symonette, Speaker of the House of Assembly (page 237), had to back down the steps after presenting a parchment scroll to the Queen. But even in silver-buckled pumps, gold-trimmed cape, and full-bottomed wig, my longtime shipmate "Bobby" lost none of the sure footing he had displayed as a mem 234 ber of Finisterre'socean-racing crew. Despite the colonial aura of the royal visit, Bahamians largely control their own govern ment. "In internal affairs I am bound by the advice of my ministers," Sir Ralph Grey told me later. "I can advise or warn against deci sions with which I'm not in accord, but if they insist, I must go along." $3 Bill Created to Match Pound Sterling Since May 25, 1966, the Bahamas have tak en another step away from the mother coun try by replacing the pound sterling with the dollar. Each new coin bears the profile of Queen Elizabeth on one side, but the other depicts a local subject-a native sloop on the quarter, a leaping marlin on the half dollar, a conch shell on the silver dollar. Paper money follows the same dual motif-including the curious $3.00 bill, nearest equivalent to the $2.80 English pound.