By Graham Huband and Maura Bowman
THERE WERE colourful scenes at Dundee’s Baxter Park yesterday as hundreds of people turned out for the visit of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
The official reopening of the park and its pavilion following a £5 million refurbishment was the culmination of a day of royal events in the city, which included visits to Dundee University, Sensation and the Shore.
However, with just 15 minutes to go before the royal limousine was due to arrive, it seemed the afternoon would be a complete wash-out.
As groups of children were shepherded out of the torrential rain, and guests tried to protect their summer garden party hats, organisers must have been praying very hard, because the sun came out just in time for the arrival of the royal party.
One little boy was in no doubt why he was there, but was perhaps a little confused by he fuss being made over the pavilion.
“That’ll be the Queen’s palace,” he announced, nodding towards the building as he and his friends from two local nurseries snaked their way to the mini corral from where they were to welcome the royal visitors.
He was one of the children from Buttons and Bows Nursery and Kiddycare Nursery who greeted the Queen and the duke with Union flags, while Tayside Police Pipe Band piper Terry Reid played Scotland The Brave as the Royal Standard was raised.
The Queen was presented with posies by five-year-olds Neve Carnegie and Aron Guild.
Lord Provost John Letford, the Queen’s official representative in the city, and Chief Constable John Vine were among the dignitaries welcoming the royal couple.
Merrill Smith, Dundee council’s head of business development and support services, and city archivist Iain Flett explained the history of the pavilion to the royal visitors.
The royal visitors also met Mohammed Asif, deputy convener of leisure, arts and communities, Irene Shearer, chairwoman of the Friends of Baxter Park, Colin McLean, from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Virginia Sharp from Historic Scotland, architects Gordon Stephen and Elizabeth Woodhouse and urban ranger David Hughes.
The Queen and the duke toured the new exhibition in the refurbished pavilion. The park was gifted to Dundee in 1863 by Sir David Baxter and his sisters Eleanor and Mary Ann.
Members of the Baxter family were presented to the royal visitors, with six-year-old Anna Baxter giving the Queen flowers.
Her father Alastair said that the family had travelled from their home in London for the occasion.
“I think the council has done a fantastic job of the refurbishment,” he added.
The Queen unveiled a plaque commemorating the park’s restoration before being given a tour of local community group display stands by Mrs Ina Brown, chairwoman of Celebration in the Park.
The duke was accompanied by David Hughes.
The royal couple then went to greet members of the public who had been waiting patiently in the rain for almost an hour.
Nine-year-old Susannah Rose from Forfar gave the Queen a bouquet of flowers.
“It was my idea to bring the flowers because I have never seen the Queen before,” said a delighted Susannah after the Queen accepted the floral gift.
“She asked us if we had been waiting long and if we got wet,” she said.
The party atmosphere was maintained throughout the visit, with music from a number of local bands who made the best of the weather with renditions of songs such as Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life and Singing In The Rain.
MSP Shona Robison was among the guests invited to meet the Queen.
She said the royal visit would put Baxter Park back on the map, and encourage visitors to use the rejuvenated facility.
“It is an event people will remember for some time. They have braved weather to see the Queen mark the opening and it shows the strength of community feeling that people are prepared to brave the elements to do that.
“I would certainly hope the community would continue to support the park and take advantage of the facilities,” she said.