King Rex’s Voyage to New Orleans for Carnival 1921

During the carnival season of 1921, King Rex, “The King of Carnival,” made his regular fictional voyage from his “Oriental Capital” to Nouvelle Orleans in time for festivities. This year, the krewe took inspiration from the East Asian background that the name ‘Oriental Capital’ implies, and created the theme of “Porcelain in Fact and Fancy”, putting lots of beautiful pottery and porcelain on display.

During this grand journey to New Orleans, the king’s crew sent messages to the Times-Picayune (a lauded, local newspaper which still runs today). In turn, the the Times-Picayune then published these messages, delivering depictions of King Rex’s journey to the New Orleanian masses up until his final arrival on Mardi Gras Day.

“Mardi Gras, REX Yacht.” New Orleans Jazz Club, Circa 1900. 

The first article, titled “His Majesty, Rex, Heralds Nouvelle Orleans Visit,” was published on January 16th. It began by setting up the story of the voyage, presenting a message from the Royal Scribe, El Hamid. The ship had left for its voyage four days before the message was sent, relaying favorable weather and predicted arrival to the Arabian Sea within the next day.

The journey may have started a bit rough, as the ship had needed some repairs, but with that aside the venture was going smoothly. This changed briefly, as the Royal Guards demanded for compensation due to the rising cost of living. Their demands were met, they began working the royal aesthetics of the ship, painting it with white, gold, and red accents along with banners. The Royal Yacht was now looking much more royal.

At this point, the only concern aboard the ship was their potential lack of supplies. There was a scarce amount of food and medicine so the crew would have to be careful to use it sparingly while still having enough people fed and well for the remainder of the journey. There was also a mention of the Royal Mixologist deciding to step down, believing his skills were better utilized elsewhere. El Hamid ends the letter by assuring that there will be great festivities for carnival time and that King Rex is already planning them.

On January 23rd, another article was published in the paper titled “Rex Crowds Sail for Joyous Haven,” and it contained another message from the Royal Scribe, Al Hamed. At the point it was written, the Royal Yacht was on schedule and things were going as planned. There was some uncertainty as to whether or not they were on schedule until they were finally able to see the coast of Egypt. The commandant of the Royal Guards was Pasha, Fal Sou and he was largely responsible for the success of the trip so far. Much of the crew had heard that there was good shopping to do in New Orleans so they wanted to port early. This put more stress on the commandant as he would have to speed the voyage up in order to make time. Some of the crew believed they were making good time already and there was no point in worrying. Once they saw the coast of Malta, they were all reassured that they were making good time. Some light-hearted news was shared about the crew member, Khalif Hu Mac, and his puns. A segment of a conversation was shared:

“Khan Wal Tur Ser?” Khalif Hu Mac’s response, “I am sure I don’t know. Can he?”

At its end, the message provided information about a new pilot being added to the crew, giving the ship a needed navigator in absence of maps. While King Rex called for the creation of new maps, the new pilot insisted that he was able to get them to New Orleans. Being entrusted with this task, he had control of the boat from that point forward. As the message closed, their position was in the Atlantic ocean with Malta behind them. 

The third and final article was published on February 6th. It was titled “Rex Passes Cuba With Reluctance,” containing more information about the voyage as written by El Hamed. The Royal Yacht was on the final stretch of its journey, with its approximate arrival on the upcoming Tuesday (the 8th of February). At the time of the message, they were located along the Cuban coast and beginning to enter the Gulf of Mexico.

The crew was very excited to have made it to this point and had become very eager to arrive in the Carnival Capital. Khan Al Jan Fer was the first to spot land and the crew very excitedly tried to figure out if their eyes were deceiving them or not. With this announcement, they were all ready for the end of the voyage. Just a couple days away from docking, El Hamed ends the final message.

These three articles make up the entirety of King Rex’s voyage aboard the Royal Yacht to New Orleans for carnival. These documents give a fascinating insight into how New Orleanians were able to enjoy the count-down to Mardi Gras day, while also allowing us to marvel at the way the Krewe of Rex was able to tell a story just less than a century ago.

Written By: Oliver Spector

Originally Published: December 11th, 2020 || Last Updated: February 14th, 2023

A part of Doc Studio’s History of the New Orleans Landscape Collection


  • “His Majesty, Rex, Heralds Nouvelle Orleans Visit Merry Monarch Undismayed by Reports of Disappearance of.” Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), January 16, 1921: 20. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current
  • Library of Congress. “Mardi Gras, REX Yacht.” New Orleans Jazz Club, Circa 1900. 
  • “Rex Crowds Sail For Joyous Haven King of Mardi Gras Sends Felicitations for ‘Fifth Season.’.” Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), January 23, 1921: 24. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current
  • “Rex Passes Cuba With Reluctance King of Carnival Confronted With Mutiny on Voyage Hither.” Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), February 6, 1921: 6. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current

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