Visit of the King of Afghanistan, 22 March 1928

In late 1927, King Amānullāh and Queen Surayya of Afghanistan commenced a tour of Europe, arriving in Britain on 13 March 1928 and leaving for Poland just over three weeks later. On 22 March, the King made a visit to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, where he was met by the Astronomer Royal, Frank Dyson. A large retinue of press photographers, together with a film crew, were present to record the occasion. King Amānullāh reigned for just ten years, from 1919 until his abdication in 1929. He lived the rest of his life as an exile in Europe, dying in Switzerland in 1960.

In this view, the King, who is at the centre of the group, is observing a projected image of the Sun. The Astronomer Royal is on the right of the group and, although largely hidden from view, can be identified by his white hair. The man in the light coat with his hands behind his back and his back to the camera is Harold Newton, who joined the Observatory in 1910 and was in charge of the photoheliographs

The Royal party on the roof of the South Building. The Astronomer Royal (now wearing a top hat) is in the centre of the group. The King is to his right and carrying a camera. The aerial for receiving time signals from Paris was suspended from the flagpole on the Octagon Room roof (see left hand photo) to the flagpole that is behind him


The (actual) photo of the Airy Transit Circle presented to the King during his visit

In the Great-Equatorial Building with the 28-inch refractor. Dyson is at the eye-piece, Originally published in Master Minds of Modern Science, this copy is taken from the review of the book published in The Meccano Magazine

A copy of the film, Visit of the King of Afghanistan to England is preserved at the Imperial War Museum. The visit to the Observatory is on video 4 (of 7). The Observatory footage starts at 3 min 15 sec. The King and the Astronomer Royal are seen entering the Great Equatorial dome and examining the telescope. They are then shown examining the telescopes in the Thompson Dome. The footage ends on roof of the South Building. Click here to view this video.