‘A good friend of my family and the UK’: When Queen Elizabeth met Sultan Qaboos

The British monarch visited Oman in 1979 after a three-day trip to the UAE

OMAN - FEBRUARY 28: The Queen With Sultan Qaboos In Oman. During The Arrival Ceremony At Sultan Qaboos' S Home Muscat Palace. She Is Holding Onto Her Hat After It Had Been Knocked Off By The Wind (day Date Not Certain. Gulf Tour Dates 12 Feb - 1 March 1979) (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
OMAN - FEBRUARY 28: The Queen With Sultan Qaboos In Oman. During The Arrival Ceremony At Sultan Qaboos' S Home Muscat Palace. She Is Holding Onto Her Hat After It Had Been Knocked Off By The Wind (day Date Not Certain. Gulf Tour Dates 12 Feb - 1 March 1979) (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

It must have been a windy day in Muscat exactly 41 years ago, because Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom had to hold on to her hat as she was welcomed to Oman by the late Sultan Qaboos during an official ceremony at Muscat Palace.

The Queen arrived in Oman on February 28, 1979, after completing a three-day visit to the UAE. During her tour of the Emirates, she was greeted at Mina Zayed by Founding Father Sheikh Zayed. She visited Corniche hospital and saw camel racing in Al Ain, then flew from the Garden City to Dubai, where she attended a service at Holy Trinity Church in Bur Dubai.

During her tour of Oman, the Queen visited the souqs of Muscat, walked through Nizwa Fort, hosted a state dinner aboard the Britannia yacht and visited Sultan Qaboos’s stables, with horses a shared passion for the monarchs.

When Sultan Qaboos died last month, the Queen released a statement saying the ruler, who led Oman for half a century, was “a good friend of my family and of the United Kingdom”. She said she was “thankful for all he did to further strengthen the bond of friendship between our countries”. She also said that a state visit to Oman in 2010 “remains a cherished memory”.

When visiting the Gulf country in 2010 for four days, the first since her 1979 trip, the Queen and Sultan Qaboos exchanged gifts. The sultan presented the British monarch with an ornate vase and a gold Faberge egg that, when opened, revealed a tiny gold horse.

Meanwhile, the Queen gave the Omani ruler a first-edition 1976 copy of the book The Elements of Clock and Watch-Work. It was signed by the Scottish author Alexander Cummings, a man perhaps best known for being the first to patent a design of the flush toilet.

Updated: February 27, 2020 03:24 PM

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