Queen Elizabeth II Queen Of Australia prepares for 90th birthday celebrations

Impartial Queen a respected 'constant and stabilising presence'

The Queen has seen 12 prime ministers pass through Downing Street and 15 Prime Minsters Of Australia since she ascended to the throne in 1952, meeting the British Prime Ministers once a week at the palace, receiving regular briefings from Canberra  and still receiving daily updates of the workings of parliament.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron will pay tribute to the monarch in parliament on Thursday, while US President Barack Obama will join the Queen for lunch at Windsor on Friday.

The Queen is widely viewed as a constant and stabilising presence in a turbulent world, a status she has cultivated by refusing to make public her personal views.

In September last year, she broke Queen Victoria's record to become Britain's longest-reigning monarch, but played down the achievement, saying it was "not one to which I have ever aspired".

"Inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones. My own is no exception," she said.

The Queen has reigned for more than 63 years and shows no sign of retiring, even if she has in recent years passed on some of her duties to the younger royals.

Thursday's celebrations will be low-key, with the main public events, including a military parade and lunch for 10,000 guests on The Mall outside Buckingham Palace, taking place as part of her official birthday celebrations in June.

The Queen will also attend a family birthday dinner organised by her heir Prince Charles, emphasising her role as the head of four generations of the House of Windsor.

 

Since her coronation on June 2, 1952, she has visited 53 Commonwealth countries and has worked to create a sense of belonging and family for all across her realm.

Since 1867, there have been over fifty visits by a member of the Royal Family to Australia, though only six of those came before 1954. Elizabeth II is the only reigning monarch of Australia to have set foot on Australian soil; she first did so on 3 February 1954. During her sixteen journeys the Queen has visited every Australian state and the two mainland territories.

 1950's

 
Queen Elizabeth II arriving in Leura for her visit to Leuralla during the 1954 Australian Royal Tour
 

 
Flinders Street Station in Melbourne illuminated for the 1954 Australian Royal Tour

Elizabeth II was the first reigning monarch of Australia to set foot on Australian soil, coming ashore at Farm Cove, Sydney, on 3 February 1954. She had two years earlier been en route to Australia when her father died while she was on a private visit to Kenya, forcing her to return to the United Kingdom. Once finally in Australia, with her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, she undertook a journey through the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, including greeting 70,000 ex-servicemen and women at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and opening the Australian Parliament in Canberra. In all, the Queen travelled 10,000 miles by air, making approximately 33 flights, 2000 miles by road (130 hours in cars in 207 trips), visiting all capitals except Darwin and 70 country towns, many by special "royal trains". On one such train trip they visited Leuralla in Leura, in the Blue Mountains. Twenty-seven years earlier, Harry Andreas of Leuralla had acted as a fishing guide for The Queen's parents, whilst the young Princess "Lillibet" was left at home with her nanny. This extensive travel allowed some 75 per cent of the Australian population to see the Queen at least once during the tour. At the conclusion of the tour the Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, stated in an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald:

"It is a basic truth that for our Queen we have within us, sometimes unrealised until the moment of expression, the most profound and passionate feelings of loyalty and devotion. It does not require much imagination to realise that when eight million people spontaneously pour out this feeling they are engaging in a great act of common allegiance and common joy which brings them closer together and is one of the most powerful elements converting them from a mass of individuals to a great cohesive nation. In brief, the common devotion to the Throne is a part of the very cement of the whole social structure."

In 1956, Prince Philip opened the Olympic Games in Melbourne, and opened the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth, while on a tour through Western Australia, New South Wales and the ACT. In 1965 he opened the Royal Australian Mint, and in 1968 went to Australia to open the Duke of Edinburgh Study Conference

 

1960s

Planned as a less formal tour than the one in 1954, the Queen returned in 1963, touring all the states and territories, with the primary purpose being to lead the Canberra jubilee celebrations commemorating the 50th anniversary of the naming of the capital. During this trip she also toured the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia base in Alice Springs. In preparation for this tour, Sir Roy Dowling, the Queen's Australian Secretary for the visit, was warned about Northern Territory mosquitoes. Dowling was warned, "You could be placed in an extremely embarrassing situation if the Queen's skin was marked and if the press published pictures and stories about those marks."

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother attended the Adelaide Festival of Arts as its patron, and opened Flinders University, also travelling to Western Australia, the Snowy Mountains and the Australian Capital Territory between 22 March and 7 April 1966.

1970s

The Queen, Prince Philip, the Prince of Wales (for part of the tour only) and the Princess Anne made an extensive tour of Australia in 1970 in connection with the bi-centenary of Captain James Cook sailing up the east coast of Australia in 1770. This was a very popular tour and large crowds turned out to see the Queen. One large gathering occurred when the royal yacht HMY Britannia sailed up the Brisbane River, mooring just below the historic Newstead House in Brisbane. In January 2009, a retired police detective revealed an unsuccessful attempt to derail the Royal Train near Bowenfels, New South Wales on 29 April 1970.

The Queen returned to Australia again in 1973 to open the Sydney Opera House and also in 1974 to open the Australian Parliament in Canberra. This time the Queen returned to London on 28 February for a General Election in Britain, cutting short the tour, which the Duke of Edinburgh completed.

An extended royal tour of Australia was made in 1977 as part of the Silver Jubilee of Her Majesty's reign.
1980s

In the 1980s the Queen made short tours to open the new High Court of Australia building in 1980, the new National Gallery of Australia in 1982 and the Parramatta Stadium in 1986. During the 1986 visit, at a ceremony held in Government House, Canberra, she signed a proclamation that brought into effect the Australia Act 1986, which severed the final constitutional link between Australia and the United Kingdom.

The Queen attended the 1981 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), held in Melbourne in September.

The Queen and Prince Philip also made a popular visit in 1988 as part of the bicentenary celebrations. On Saturday 30 April 1988, the Queen opened the World Expo in Brisbane before opening the new permanent Parliament House in Canberra on Monday 9 May.

1990s

In 1992 the Queen returned to the sesquicentenary of the incorporation of the city of Sydney. In the last years of the decade she did not visit the country to avoid being embroiled in the debate about future of the monarchy. Her next tour was timed to be made well after the 1999 referendum on the republic. The Australian government of John Howard had advised the Queen on the timing.

2000s

In 2000 the Queen made an extended tour in the states of Australia which was followed by another visit in 2002 when she attended the 2002 CHOGM: the second such meeting held in Australia.

One day later, the Queen and Prince Philip arrived in Melbourne where the Queen opened the Commonwealth Games. As well, the royal couple opened a new section of the Sydney Opera House, attended a Commonwealth Day ceremony in Sydney, had official meetings with the Prime Minister, Governor-General and Leader of the Opposition at Government House in Canberra, lunched with former governors-general, met with firefighters in Canberra, attended and made a formal speech at an official dinner at Parliament House in Canberra to commemorate her 80th birthday and watched some of the events at the games.

2010s

In October 2011, Elizabeth II visited Australia in her role as Queen of Australia and Head of the Commonwealth. At a reception in her honour held at Parliament House in Canberra on 21 October 2011, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, described the Queen as "a vital constitutional part of Australian democracy". The Queen in her speech at the same reception stated that,

    "It has been a difficult year for this country in many ways despite the successes. The world witnessed the anguish of Australians as they lived through a summer of national disasters. We were all inspired by the courage and resolution shown by those affected in the face of crippling desolation. Ever since I first came here in 1954 I have watched Australia grow and develop at an extraordinary rate. This country has made dramatic progress economically in social scientific and industrial endeavours and above all in self-confidence."

The Queen visited Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth during the tour. In Perth she attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

The Queen visited the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in 1954 while the territory was still administered by Singapore. A visit was made to Norfolk Island in 1974.

To honour the 90th year of her birth and 64th year of her illustrious reign, we pay homage to what may be Elizabeth II’s crowning achievement.

The first visit to Australia by Queen Elizabeth took place in 1954, the year after her Coronation. When the Royal yacht Brittania docked in Sydney Harbor and the Queen walked down the gangplank, Australia seemed to explode.

One radio commentator roared into his microphone: “The Queen is ACTUALLY STANDING ON AUSTRALIAN SOIL!”, and the next day the Sun News-Pictorial in Melbourne whacked a huge headline on its front page: “The Greatest Day In Australia’s History”.

A few days later your correspondent, then a 10-year-old schoolboy, was among crowds of other excited schoolmates, cheering hysterically, when the Queen floated past in an open car nosing its way down Virginia Street, Newtown, Geelong.

Through all their excitement, there was much discussion among these rather scruffy future citizens as to how the heavily powdered Queen was nevertheless forced not only to wave to the schoolboys, but also, in the same motion, constantly brush away the hordes of Australian bush flies. Being ten-year-old boys, there was, shamefully, laughter

By the time of the next royal visit by the Queen, 1963, your correspondent was now the esteemed “copy boy” at the Melbourne Herald. Still too junior and unqualified to actually cover such an important news event, he nevertheless noticed with interest on the television coverage that this time the Queen seemed untroubled by the bothersome Australian flies.

queen australia 1954

On further investigation it was revealed that the royal party had received assistance from an unexpected source when they had first arrived in Canberra. A humble scientist at the CSIRO, Mr Doug Waterhouse, aware of the problem in the past, had sent to the royal minders a substance whose main ingredient was N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, which was intended to repel flies and other insects.

However, no-one in the royal entourage was emboldened enough to spray any such matter on the Queen herself. Some of the staff did experiment with the product themselves though, and found it to be instantly and thoroughly effective.

There are various versions of this story, but one way or another, the Queen was eventually sprayed with the substance and the problem of the Australian Flies During Royal Visits was gone forever. The Queen has now completed 16 visits to Australia.

And Doug Waterhouse’s product eventually became the Mortein product Aerogard. They simply asked Mr Waterhouse for his product, and he obliged. That was the CSIRO policy of the time.

Mr Doug Waterhouse went on working at the CSIRO as chief entomologist and later died at 84. He was said to be a humble and happy man with a streak of larrikinism.

Resistance is feudal

Your correspondent was able to see the Queen untroubled by flies just one more time. By 1971 he was working in the Foreign Department of The Times, London, and one day the editor of The Times, Sir William Rees-Mogg, asked a favour of the young Australian man. Could he possibly, asked Sir William, deputise for the editor by attending a garden party at Buckingham Palace.

queen nigeria

Your correspondent tumbled into his 1959 Hillman Husky wagon and purred up to Buckingham Palace where he was directed to the garden party and found himself in the company of 20 or so black African gentlemen in tribal gear, some carrying spears. Each was around the height of Aaron Sandilands, or so it seemed.

It was, it turned out, a celebration to honour the Ambassadors and High Commissioners from African countries resident in London. They had been requested to wear tribal gear.

All those present were required to form a circle, including your correspondent, by the only other white man present, a royal minder. The Queen and Prince Philip then arrived, stepped inside the circle and moved in opposite directions to each other around the circle, shaking hand with each gentleman.

Your correspondent noticed with satisfaction that no flies were pestering the royal couple, probably because it was England, not Australia.

The Queen arrived at your correspondent, gave him a puzzled look, whereupon he humbly explained “I’m from The Times, Your Majesty”. The Queen, rather charmingly, gave him a winning smile and said something like: “Oh, well I don’t need to talk to you then.”

Upon which Prince Philip arrived, gave a similar puzzled look to your correspondent, and then said “Doctor Livingstone I presume?”

Additional Sources from TND, and ABC News

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