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MoB Sunday Stories: the Queen visits Brisbane

On 9 March 1954, Queen Elizabeth II made history by being the first-ever reigning monarch to set foot in Queensland. With her husband Prince Phillip in tow, the then 27-year old monarch arrived in Brisbane to much fanfare and excitement.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip en route to Eagle Farm Airport, Brisbane 1954. Courtesy State Library of Queensland.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip en route to Eagle Farm Airport, Brisbane 1954. Courtesy State Library of Queensland.

The royal itinerary included regional visits to Bundaberg, Toowomba, Townsville, Cairns, Mackay and surrounding destinations, and several days in Brisbane. The Queen and Prince Phillip stayed at Government House in inner-west Paddington with Queensland Governor Sir John Lavarack and his wife. Lady Lavarack went on to document the visit in a two-page recollection that outlined the Queen’s convivial and pleasing nature.

The Queen’s entourage, a modest collection of 38 staff, were on hand at all times to ensure that royal protocol was upheld as Her Majesty navigated her royal duties despite what the UK newspaper’s described as a “sultry heat”. The royal visit attracted seven million people, who came out to catch a glimpse of the newly-crowned monarch, and every minute of the tour was meticulously planned from the elaborate motorcade processions to the glittering Lord Mayor’s Royal Ball which brought a touch of glitz and glamour to City Hall.

A sepia-tinted photograph taken by the Dorothy Coleman Studio shows a rare glimpse of the opulent event. Here the Queen and Prince Phillip sit onstage beneath an elaborate setting of plants, flowers and figures. The initials ‘ER’ are visible, referring to ‘Elizabeth Regina’, the latin form of Queen Elizabeth. In the foreground a large crowd of dancing couples swirl around the dance floor in a sea of smart tuxedos, formal military uniforms and elegant evening gowns with long gloves.

Wish you could step back into the glamorous past? Immerse yourself in the amazing history of Brisbane with our exclusive theatrical walking tour, Walking with Gertrude. Click here to book your spot and dive headfirst back in time.

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