60th Anniversary British Royals Tour

Guest blogger: Niles Elvery – Manager Public Access, Queensland State Archives

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Duke of  Edinburgh waving to crowds, Brisbane, 12 March 1954 Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 1649

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh waving to crowds, Brisbane, 12 March 1954

March this year represents the 60th anniversary of the tour of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; the first reigning monarch to visit Australia. An extensive trip, it was the first visit to use air travel and included 33 flights, 130 hours of driving, train and boat travel. All capitals (except Darwin) and 70 country towns were visited, allowing about 75 per cent of the population to view the new Queen.

The Queensland portion of the tour was from 9 to 15 March 1954 and included Brisbane, Bundaberg, Oakey, Toowoomba, Townsville, Cairns, Mackay and Rockhampton as well as a day of rest on the Great Barrier Reef.

Front cover of Queensland's 1954 Royal Visit Official Souvenir. Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 10196

Front cover of Queensland's 1954 Royal Visit Official Souvenir

Public holidays were declared by an Act of Parliament; buildings were painted, decorated and illuminated for the visit and in all towns people turned out in droves to see the royals.

Illumination of the Executive Buildings in honour of Her Majesty  Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, 1954. Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 7967

Illumination of the Executive Buildings in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, 1954

In Brisbane a civic welcome, state reception, investiture, Executive Council meeting and Lord Mayor’s Ball were held.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at State Reception, Brisbane, 1954. Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 3076

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at State Reception, Brisbane, 1954

The tour was described as a magnificent success which ‘left an imperishable memory for Australians of our Queen and her husband’ (E J Harrison, Minister in Charge, Royal Visit, to Premier Vince Gair, 31 May 1954).

Discover more about visits by the British royal family to Queensland at The British Royals: A Queensland Story.