Queen Elizabeth II's Inaugural Visit to Queensland
As the first ever reigning monarch to visit Australia, Queen Elizabeth II created great excitement and celebration in Queensland when she and The Duke of Edinburgh visited in 1954.
The Royal couple’s tightly timed seven-day itinerary allowed them to visit Brisbane and seven regional centres, spending precisely one hour 25 minutes in Bundaberg, one hour 30 minutes in Toowoomba, two hours in Cairns and Townsville, two hours 40 minutes in Mackay and one hour 40 minutes in Rockhampton, as well as a (literal) flying visit to Oakey and a rest day on the Great Barrier Reef.
In Brisbane, the Royal couple stayed at Government House as guests of then Queensland Governor, Sir John Lavarack, and his wife, Lady Lavarack.
The Queen’s duties in Brisbane included a civic welcome, a State reception, an Investiture Ceremony to present honours and awards under the British honours system, an Executive Council meeting and the Lord Mayor’s Ball.
Invitations to the ball and reception were highly prized, as evidenced by the many letters found in the State and city archives from individuals and organisations seeking the opportunity to attend.
Local newspaper reports also highlighted the months of planning undertaken by the women of Brisbane with regard to appropriate evening wear for such a grand occasion and Royal curtsey etiquette.
The Royal couple’s regional visits drew people from all over the State, the long distances travelled from inland communities making a great impression on The Queen.
At the civic welcome for The Queen and Prince Philip in Brisbane during the visit, the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, the Right Honourable Frank Roberts, noted: “Since your accession, Your Majesty has carried on the tradition that the Sovereign should be in all things an exemplar and an inspiration."
“By the manner in which the duties of your high office are discharged, by your dedication to public service, by your public and broadcast address, and above all by your way of living, you have long since won not only the respect but the love of all your subjects.”