On This Day

The Day Britain’s Queen Visited Myanmar’s Imperial Pavilion

By Wei Yan Aung 31 May 2020

Yangon — On this day in 1924, Britain’s Queen Mary and her son, the Prince of Wales – the future King Edward VIII – visited the Myanmar (then Burma) pavilion at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Park in northwest London.

The pavilion featured scrimshaws, lacquerware, traditional clothes, bells and gongs and two large paintings depicting natural resources and farming. The pavilion also displayed forestry produce, rubies and gems and examples of the Burmah Oil Company’s work.

The Queen purchased amber, pearls and carved ivory.

Queen Mary shows Queen Marie of Romania around the Burmese Pavilion in 1924.

The delegation presented the Queen with a golden umbrella and the royal entourage was entertained by dancers, the cane ball juggler Maung Law Paw and an elephant dance.

It was the second time she visited the pavilion after an earlier excursion with Queen Marie of Romania, who was British. The artist of the two 2-meter wide paintings at the pavilion was Maung Ba Nyan, who was studying painting in England at the time. Maung Ba Nyan was the first artist from Myanmar to study painting in England, and was the only Burmese artist who exhibited his paintings at the colonial governors’ residence in British-run Burma. He revolutionized Myanmar’s artistic sphere by introducing western techniques to the country.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko