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In The Last Hurrah, Graham Viney has written a fascinating account of a pivotal moment in South African history. In vivid prose he describes the background to the Royal Tour and its progress across the country in the specially commissioned white train. More than this, Viney provides interesting analysis of the politics of the time and the society, fractious as ever, which welcomed King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and their two daughters, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.
The tour was a show of Empire solidarity and a recognition of South Africa’s role and contribution to the Allied cause during World War II, and more specifically of Prime Minister Jan Smuts. Despite controversy, wherever the tour took the Royal Family, South Africans of all races turned out in their thousands to cheer and welcome them. But one year later, in 1948, Smuts’ government was defeated in a general election and the Nationalists under D.F. Malan came to power setting South Africa inexorably on the path to Republic. The tour had truly been British South Africa’s last hurrah.
The Last Hurrah draws on sources from far and wide, including the Royal Archive at Windsor, and a selection of never-before published photographs of the royal family on tour.