Sultan Seyyid of Zanzibar arrived at St Pancras Station, London, from Manchester yesterday afternoon for what was perhaps a last moment of glory in his public career. The photographers were there with lights and cameras, the reporters with their notebooks, the police with their strong arms, the stationmaster with his top hat, and the Duke of Devonshire with a welcoming handshake on behalf of the Commonwealth Relations Office.
But there also were familiar attendants of disaster – the Red Cross ladies with bundles of old clothes for "kitting out" cold, impoverished refugees, and the Zanzibar Ambassador to Egypt, who had flown to London especially to meet the Sultan and was distributing copies of a petition he had sent to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights asking for "immediate interference to stop the widespread massacres in Zanzibar" and "nonrecognition of this new anarchist regime" there.
The Sultan, his wife, his mother, his five children and 52 other refugees of all ages, stepped from two reserved carriages with no more luggage than a few brown paper parcels, and were driven to the St James's Court Hotel, round the corner from Buckingham Palace. It was barely a week since they had left the sunshine of Zanzibar.
A CRO spokesman said that there were no plans at the moment for the Sultan to meet any British Ministers, but no doubt there would have to be talks soon with the Sultan's representatives on how best to wind up the British Government's obligations to the Sultan – with a word on the final bill for the chartered aircraft from Dar-es-Salaam, the train from Manchester to London, and the accommodation at the hotel, all being paid so far by the British Government.
Before leaving Manchester, where his aircraft had been forced to land because of fog at London Airport on Sunday, the Sultan said he was sorry to hear of the trouble in Tanganyika and hoped the reports were not true. He emphasised his appreciation of British hospitality and said he hoped to stay in Britain for the time being.
Mr A S Kharusi, private secretary to the Sultan, denied that the Sultan had come to England for financial aid. He wanted only British hospitality; friendship from old friends.