From the May 31, 1985 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

The frogman plopped his dripping flippers and oxygen tanks on the dock and strode up to one of the phalanx of blue-blazered, gray-trousered, penny-loafered Secret Service agents patrolling Vineyard Haven’s Coastwise wharf for potential threats to King Hussein of Jordan on the last leg of his Sunday morning visit to the Island.

Fresh from his search of the under-harbor, the diver reported no bombs planted under the yacht Excalibur, on which his majesty, his Queen Noor and his entourage presently would sail back to Newport harbor.

“Just a couple of A&P shopping carts,” he told the SS agent. Then he raised his arm, wiggled his fingers and made a scary face. “There was a hand down there going WOOOO!”

In another corner of the harbor, two Coast Guard cutters from the Castle Hill station in Newport sat waiting to escort the king and queen back to whence they flew this morning by helicopter. One security agent stood near the Newport Cozy Cab shuttle bus that brought food for the voyage and would carry back excess guards and servants by ferry and by road.

Several workers wheelbarrowed the 30 baskets of eats packed for the voyage after security people at the king’s Newport hotel “ripped them to pieces looking for bombs,” according to yesterday’s Newport Daily News.

“They’re not gonna run out of food, are they?” said a spectator as the food was trundled aboard the yacht. “They gonna have leftovers or what?”

The observer was part of a modest clutch of Islanders and Memorial Day weekend tourists gathered around Coastwise and the Black Dog Tavern. Something was up, they figured, with all those cordoned-off parking spaces on Beach Road extension and Tisbury policemen making sure the spaces stayed that way.

Some craned their necks to look up the extension for the motorcade which, they were assured, would accompany the royal couple back from a visit with the queen’s parents, summer residents Mr. and Mrs. Najeeb Halaby. Those in the Black Dog waiting line kept one ear open for the call from the restaurant that their table was open.

Soon an engine droned above the harbor and the human spectator fleet tacked in the direction of the water as a seaplane swooped in for a splash-landing . . . with only the pilot aboard.

Still, it was hardly the kind of newsmaker-hunting swarm that greeted Claus von Bulow in Newport during his first attempted murder trial three years ago.

“We don’t go in much for this celebrity business,” explained Vineyard Haven year-rounder Avi Lev. “But when it’s a political figure of this stature it does kind of get my adrenaline going.”

As the Steamship Authority ferry Naushon sailed inside the breakwater, bulging with daytrippers, other bystanders wondered what might bring the king here, of all places.

“It’s not like he really needs a T-shirt or anything,” one spectator said.

A Bostonian inquired, “What’s he doin’, buying the Island?”

Actually, the king was in New England to watch his son receive an engineering degree at Brown University and to speak at Brown’s commencement. Between ceremonies, they flew in a Sikorsky helicopter to the Martha’s Vineyard Airport. From there they and their guards rode to the Boldwater subdivision project on Edgartown Great Pond to show the Halaby daughters their father’s property there. The king and Mr. Halaby — former federal aviation administrator and president of Pan Am airlines — talked Middle East politics, and discussed the contrasts between arid Jordan and the bayou-like environment of Boldwater.

Surrounded by bodyguards, the royal couple rode to Vineyard Haven in a maroon Jeep Cherokee, preceded by three vehicles and followed by three more, including State Police wagons and a Cadillac limousine with Washington, D.C., license plates.

While all that was going on, an Island policeman carried a double six-pack of Michelob beer aboard the Excalibur, a sight to tickle the funnybones of residents of this dry town and even a tourist wearing a Tufts University T-shirt.

“Cahn’t be too hahd to take, huh?” the woman said.

Shortly after 1 p.m. the motorcade pulled in, and a foot procession surrounded the king and queen — he in sportshirt, casual blue trousers and a blue Barracuda jacket, she in white pants, blue and white striped cotton sweater and sunglasses. Queen Noor kissed her parents goodbye, and strode with her king — who was waving to well wishers — aboard the yacht as the sparkling water reflected off Excalibur’s dark blue hull.

Without delay, the yacht cast off for Newport with a Coast Guard cutter on either side of it. The Halabys got back in the jeep and rode off to Edgartown, while the rest of the motorcade turned and headed to the ferry dock.

“Let’s go, buddy,” a state policeman told the Cozy Cab shuttle van, “they’re holdin’ the boat for you.”

Compiled by Hilary Wall