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Remember the Queen’s First Visit to Adelaide?

Who can forget the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s first visit back in 1954 when we welcomed the beautiful young queen and her handsome prince to Adelaide for the first time?

Reports from The Advertiser on that day, March 18, 1954, estimated a crowd of some 200,000 people turned out for the start of her eight-day visit, with large numbers lining the route from Parafield Airport.

On Friday, 19 March, the Royal Progress through Adelaide was attended by an estimated 300,000 people. In the afternoon the Royal couple were taken to the races at Morpettville and to the Adelaide Oval for a cricket match between country teams. During the following week the Royal couple visited Whyalla, Port Lincoln and Renmark, and the Queen opened Parliament.

It was also during the visit that a satellite city north of Adelaide was named in the Queen’s honour.

The newspapers were full of the Royal visit and for the week they were here their activities dominated the scene.

The highlight for the children of Adelaide was being bussed to Wayville showgrounds to take part in a special display to welcome Her Majesty. We practiced for weeks at school to form part of a giant tableau which spelled out ‘LOYALTY’, then hundreds of young girls did the wattle dance, young boys ran around and did exercises with the finale, a living flag. It was quite spectacular really and went without a hitch. After that we got to sit on the oval while other school children performed dances and other various acts depicting life in Australia.

And, the first four words of her speech at this gathering went on to become legendary.

“My husband and I, will long remember your enthusiastic welcome, and I wish to thank each of you for the way in which you have shown your loyalty.”

Meanwhile the city was decorated with royal displays welcoming our new Queen. Many of the larger shops and emporiums had gone to great expense to mount their own royal decorations and bunting of  red, white and blue was hung across the main streets.the city spared no expense in welcoming the Royal visitors on their first Australian tour (which was also the first tour by any reigning monarch).

The whole city was decorated in red, white and blue for that first Royal visit.

The whole city was decorated in red, white and blue for that first Royal visit.

The visit to Australia was part of the newly crowned Queen’s first official tour, one that took her to Commonwealth nations across the globe.

During her two month stay in Australia she spent 9 days in South Australia, from March 18th to 26th.

What are your childhood memories of that first royal visit and did you take part in the children’s display at Wayville showgrounds?



5 Responses to Remember the Queen’s First Visit to Adelaide?

  1. Judy Kavanagh April 11, 2021 at 6:53 pm #

    Can you imagine how exciting it is for a 10 year old girl to be told she would be dancing for the Queen?
    I was a wattle girl in the display.
    My Mum had just been diagnosed with cancer and so was unable to make my costume. My amazing teacher, Mrs Dunn, stepped up to the plate and made it for me.
    I remember the buzz as so many of us donned our pom pom outfits ready to perform. To this day I can still remember the music and having to lift our knees as high as we could as we danced on to the arena.

  2. Julie Hine May 16, 2021 at 10:38 am #

    I was a wattle girl with yellow the yellow dress and yellow painted sand-shoes. We lived near the Main North Road, so witnessed the Queen and Prince Philip travelling past many times. On one such occasion, the Queen spotted my yellow shoes and nudged the Prince and pointed at me, they both smiled and waved…what a thrill for a ten year old! I’ve never forgotten it.

    • Velma Jones September 11, 2022 at 10:17 pm #

      I was at the Wayville Showgrounds on that day in 1954. I was 7 years old and went to Thebarton Primary School. It was so exciting that we saw Queen Elizabeth. And I still remember it today. I am 75 now. A wonderful memory….

  3. Wendy Rosslyn Gruar October 4, 2022 at 6:27 am #

    I received a new testament with a picture of the Queen and date of her coranation on the front from the goverment of south Australia as a keep sake i still have it many years later

    It was a very exciting day

  4. Clare August 4, 2023 at 10:59 pm #

    Hi All,

    I’m looking for a name or a photograph of a First Nations aboriginal man whom I believe was called Albert, who threw a boomerang for the queen in 1954 Adelaide. Any help would be amazing!

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