In late November 1913 the British Fleet sailed into Cairo and anchored to ‘show the flag’ in the country which was under British administrative control. The fleet was opened up for visits from those living in the city, including the army units garrisoned there. For those visitors going out to see the fleet, tickets printed in heavy cardboard were issued. Made of two colours as a security measure, this ticket dates from Saturday 22nd November 1913 and indicates that the visitor was a guest of the Royal Army Medical Corps from Citadel Barracks:
Citadel Barracks was located within the Citadel, a massive fortress in the city that dated back to the twelfth century as the primary residence of the region’s rulers, but which by the twentieth century was a military garrison for the British.
The fleet remained in Cairo for a number of days and amongst the crew of the battleship HMS Collingwood was a young officer by the name of Prince Albert; the future King George VI. On the 24th November a grand ball was held for the fleet which the young prince attended. He wrote in his diary that night, “I went to bed at 3.0am having danced nearly every dance.” In all over a thousand guests attended the ball and it was a highlight of the social calendar in the city that year. These large imperial flag showing cruises were a common feature of the final years of the pre-War. They were a way of showing off the country’s naval might and of getting in some valuable training with large fleets away from their home bases. Post war the cruises were to continue, but on a smaller scale and with far less pomp and ceremony.