Preparing for a Royal visit

In the 157 years since Queensland’s first Governor took up his appointment, Government House staff have prepared for no fewer than 42 visits by members of the British Royal Family as well as monarchs of several other nations, including Thailand and, most recently, today, Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands.

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Image: Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands at Government House today. 

As with all Royal visits, preparations began well in advance, with detailed consideration given to every imaginable aspect.

Such visits are often the catalyst for refurbishments, particularly if the visitors are staying at Government House or attending a vice-regal function. For example, during the Silver Jubilee visit by Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in March 1977, the then Governor, Sir Colin Hannah, hosted a formal dinner for some 50 guests in the Ballroom (now the Investiture Room).

Tall grass and undergrowth was cleared from the bushland and temporary carpet was laid on the wooden parquetry floor of the Ballroom to dampen the sound of footsteps of serving staff.

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Image: Queen Elizabeth II at Government House in 1977 with (from left to right) then Governor of Queensland, Sir Colin Hannah, the Duke of Edinburgh, Lady Hannah, then Queensland Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Peterson and Lady Bjelke-Peterson (courtesy of the University of Melbourne). 

Earlier, concerns had been expressed that Government House lacked good quality ornaments to complement the décor for the visit. The result was a visit by the Governor’s wife, Lady Hannah, to the prestige jewellers, Hardy Brothers, where she selected 14 china pieces for purchase and permanent display in the House. The figurines, bowls and vases selected were from celebrated British companies, some of which had held a Royal Warrant for centuries. The Coalport, Royal Worcester, Royal Doulton, Royal Adderley and Crown Staffordshire items purchased 40 years ago remain in the Government House collection and are displayed throughout the House.