PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — It was July 1976. The city of Philadelphia was celebrating America’s bicentennial. And the City of Brotherly Love welcomed a very special guest – Queen Elizabeth II.
The Queen and Prince Charles arrived at Penn’s Landing on Tuesday 6 July 1976. The 412-foot royal yacht Britannia docked and the royal couple made their way ashore.
The New York Times reported that an estimated 5,000 people had gathered to see their arrival.
The Queen was greeted by Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo and Pennsylvania Gov. Milton Shapp.
Former US Ambassador to England Walter J. Annenberg was among the dignitaries who bowed in recognition of the monarch.
The Queen met Girl Scouts dressed in colonial garb.
The Girl Scouts of America, including Girl Scouts National President Dr. Gloria Scott, presented the Queen with a book honoring women in the United States.
During her visit, the Queen visited City Hall, the Liberty Bell at Independence Hall and the Penn Mutual Building.
The 50-year-old Queen also presented the city with the Bicentennial Bell, a gift from the British government to the United States.
Hobart “Hobie” Cawood, the superintendent of Independence National Historic Park, was in charge of the park’s celebration. He showed Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles a plaque describing the Bicentennial Bell.
The inscription on the bell read:
“FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
BY THE PEOPLE OF BRITAIN
JULY 4, 1976
LET THE FREEDOM SOUND”
The bell had hung in its bell tower since June 1976, but as the New York Times reported, “Her Majesty pressed her button to signal the first ring of the bell”.
The National Park Service says:
“Queen Elizabeth II addressed the dedication ceremony at the visitor center at Independence National Historical Park on July 6, 1976,” the National Park Service said. “She expressed her gratitude to the Founding Fathers of America for teaching the British to ‘respect the right of others to govern themselves in their own way.’ She recognized a valuable lesson and emphasized the common heritage of the principles of Magna Carta that guide our nations.”
The 12,446-pound bell was cast at the Whitechapel Foundry in London, the same firm that produced the original Liberty Bell in 1751, the NPS said.
“It seems to me that Independence Day, July 4th, should be celebrated in Britain the same way it is in America,” the Queen said during the ceremony. “Not in joy at the separation of the American colonies from the British Crown, but in sincere gratitude to the founding fathers of the great republic for teaching Britain a very valuable lesson.
“…At the side of the Bicentennial Bell are the words ‘Let Freedom Ring’. It is a message both of our peoples can join and I hope will be heard around the world for centuries to come. “
For many years, the Bicentennial Bell rang at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. from its tower in the former visitor center on 3rd Street between Chestnut Street and Walnut Street.
The bell was put into storage in 2013 to make way for the construction of the Museum of the American Revolution.
Independence Historical Trust and Independence National Historical Park are collaborating to renovate a garden on the corner of 3rd and Walnut Streets to become the future home of the Bicentennial Bell.
The goal is to complete this project and open it to the public before America’s 250th anniversary in 2026.
After the bell ceremony, the Queen walked to Carpenters Hall, according to the New York Times, “through what the National Park Service estimated at 75,000 people and stopped to chat with the sweating, enthusiastic, and often flag-waving crowd.” to speak as she left.”
She then entered the First Bank Building, where Temple University student Helaine Myzel, who was also a young Park Service Ranger, answered the Queen’s door.
“I’m thrilled,” Myzel told the New York Times that day. “I will be able to tell my grandchildren that I opened the door for the Queen.”
The New York Times reported the Queen concluded her visit with a dinner for 400 and a reception for 600 at the Philadelphia City Museum of Art.
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https://6abc.com/queen-elizabeth-visits-philadelphia-1976-america-bicentennial-bell/12212620/ Queen Elizabeth II helped Philadelphia celebrate America’s bicentennial in 1976