In April 1954, simply lower than a yr after her royal coronation, Queen Elizabeth II stepped off the SS Gothic into the one Arab territory to ever turn into a colony of the British Empire, Aden.
Photos of the go to present a younger queen greeted by British colonial officers in uniform, dignitaries, and a whole bunch of residents keen – or simply curious – to see the lady who now appeared on their stamps.
Aden noticed its first and final knighthood ceremony, which included an area chief, Sayyid Abubakr bin Shaikh al-Kaff, who refused to bow earlier than the queen due to his spiritual beliefs. After which, after a day that included a navy parade, visits to colleges and a hospital, and a backyard occasion, the queen headed off to a different imperial possession, Uganda.
Aden, a port within the southwest of the Arabian Peninsula, and now a part of Yemen, had instantly been dominated by the British crown since 1937. It was first occupied in 1839, and dominated as a part of British India.
British management ran deep into the areas surrounding the town, with huge swaths of territory in what’s now southern Yemen referred to as the ‘Aden Protectorate’, a standing that was additionally used to explain British management over many components of the Gulf, together with what’s now Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
However it was solely Aden that was instantly managed by the UK, with no native ruling alongside. Town had a repute for being cosmopolitan, trendy and residential to one of many busiest ports on the earth, which the British used to attempt to preserve dominance in a area quick rising in significance because of its oil and gasoline reserves.
Withdrawal and independence
But, simply 13 years after Queen Elizabeth was welcomed with open arms in Aden, the British fled, the final excessive commissioner airlifted out by helicopter.
They’d been defeated by native independence fighters who would go on to declare the one Marxist state within the Arab world, the Folks’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen).
The rebellion had begun in 1963, fuelled by the identical Arab nationalism that pressured the British out of Egypt’s Suez Canal in 1956.
Photos from it are maybe extra reflective of the true feeling of locals in the direction of British colonial rule – protesters waving banners within the face of British troopers, Arab males pressured to lie on the bottom at gunpoint, or being marched away.
Lots of of residents have been killed within the counterinsurgency.
That reminiscence has been the abiding – and official – legacy of the British colonial interval in Yemen.
Because the years have handed, different legacies have emerged. The UK is house to a big Yemeni diaspora, a lot of whom are descended from males who joined the British navy and finally settled in British port cities and industrial centres akin to Liverpool, Sheffield and Birmingham.
Aden itself has had a turbulent historical past. South Yemen couldn’t survive the collapse of its primary benefactor, the Soviet Union, and united with North Yemen to kind a unified republic in 1990.
A civil struggle in 1994 and rising resentment in the direction of the north, the place united Yemen’s first president was from, have led to rising separatist sentiment, and the town is at present de facto below the management of the United Arab Emirates-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC), which requires the restoration of South Yemen.
Amid the poverty in Aden that has been exacerbated by Yemen’s persevering with struggle, some nostalgia for the British colonial interval exists.
The period is usually in contrast favourably by some Adenis with the town they see in the present day, the place roads and buildings haven’t been rebuilt, regardless of battles with Yemen’s northern Houthi rebels ending in 2015.
However, as a rule, these making the comparisons are too younger to have ever lived below the colonial interval themselves, and past a statue of Queen Victoria, a clocktower (referred to as Little Ben), and some different landmarks, few indicators of British rule stay.
If something, the legacy of Aden’s reference to India is stronger. Hundreds of Yemenis descend from Indians who got here to work within the colony when it was dominated as a part of British India, and Indian meals has had a profound affect, together with on Aden’s favorite meals, zurbian – a rice, potato and meat dish much like biryani.
And because the reminiscence of Queen Elizabeth’s go to, and the British Empire, fades in Aden, that’s what is more likely to stay.