A new photo from the Powerhouse Museum every day
This week Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip landed in Australia for their 16th, and what many believe will be their final, tour of Australia.
The first time the royal couple visited Australia was in 1954, less than a year after Queen Elizabeth II was crowned. Elizabeth had ascended the throne on 6 February 1952 following the death of her father King George VI, although her official coronation ceremony was not held until 2 June 1953.
This photograph, which is on the cover of a souvenir book The Royal Tour of Australia and New Zealand, captures a young Queen – only 27 years old at the time – in Australia for the first time.
Consolidated Press Ltd, Sydney, Australia, 1954, published the book, which has a royal blue linen cover with title and royal crest embossed on the front.
Another piece of royal memorabilia from the collection worth drawing attention to is this commemorative teacup.
Made of bone china, this teacup features a transfer printed portrait in sepia tones of Queen Elizabeth II. On the opposite side is text framed in a wreath of wattle and surmounted by a crown. The text reads E R II / IN COMMEMORATION / OF THE ROYAL TOUR / OF AUSTRALIA AND / NEW ZEALAND 1953 -54′. The teacup has a double scroll handle. The rim of the cup and either side of the handle have been edged with gold.
The Queen’s 1954 visit marked the first time that a reigning monarch had visited Australia, and was the centre of a great deal of excitement. Millions of Australians turned out to see her Majesty, who visited approximately 70 cities (according to the National Archives of Australia) across the country throughout February and March 1954.
However, as the National Archives of Australia research guide indicates, the Queen’s visit was not without drama:
“The course of the 1954 royal visit was altered when an epidemic of polio struck Western Australia. According to statistics prepared by the Poliomyelitis Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council, 206 cases of polio were registered in Western Australia between 11 September 1953 and 12 March 1954. As the Queen was intended to tour Western Australia from 26 March to 1 April, the worst incidence of the disease coincided with the scheduled arrival of the Queen in the state. This led to a sudden revision of the plans for the tour in Western Australia so as to prevent infection of the royal party and to minimise the risk of transmission amongst the thousands of people who would gather to watch the royal party. A number of people infected during the major epidemic in Western Australia in 1948 were believed to have caught the disease whilst attending the Royal Show. Medical authorities were thus wary of crowds and sought to avoid large clusters of people in the revised arrangements.
In the amended schedule, a number of engagements were cancelled or transferred to outdoor venues. In addition, the shaking of hands was forbidden and the presentation of bouquets to the Queen strictly curtailed.”
Hopefully the 2011 visit will be less fraught. The Queen and her husband will spend ten days in the country, visiting Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Post by Susan Cairns, Digital Services volunteer
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