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Royalty and Australian Society: Records relating to the British Monarchy held in Canberra


11 Princess Alexandra

Image 49: Princess Alexandra arriving at Melbourne Town Hall, 1959.

Image 49: Princess Alexandra arriving at Melbourne Town Hall, 1959.
NAA: A1765, PA441
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Princess Alexandra of Kent was the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Kent (the Duchess of Kent was Princess Marina who was to visit Australia in 1964).

Twenty-two year old Princess Alexandra visited Australia from 14 August to 20 September 1959. The main reason for her visit was to attend the Queensland Centenary Celebrations. Crowds of over 200 000 filled Brisbane's streets on 18 August, the date of her arrival in the city. Her time was spent mainly in Queensland, with a week in Brisbane and then a fortnight touring regional areas. These included Warwick, Toowoomba, Charleville, Longreach, Mount Isa, Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Bundaberg and a brief holiday on the Barrier Reef. She also toured for a fortnight in New South Wales, Victoria and Canberra.

Prior to arriving in Australia, the Princess met Rolf Harris, an Australian song writer and artist, at a London party for the Royal Commonwealth Society. Harris told the Brisbane Telegraph, 'Mainly she wanted to know about Australia… She is terribly excited about the trip'. Harris added, 'Later, when we danced, she asked if I would teach her some Australian terms'. He informed her that a Queenslander is a 'bananalander' and that a fine fellow is a 'beaut bloke'. Harris also stated that, 'She is a wonderful girl, completely natural and able to put you at ease… She is not the slightest bit stuffy. And she dances wonderfully.'1

Her tour of Australia was the first the Princess had undertaken alone. As such, the Prime Minister stated, 'it is our intention that she shall be burdened with as few formal duties as possible, and that she may enjoy her visit to the utmost.2

The accent during her tour was on the youth – given her age and experience many people said that her visit could not be spent shaking the hands of Parliamentarians; there should be an air of informality. Officials attempted to invite as many young people as possible to the public functions attended by the Princess.

Princess Alexandra returned to Australia from 24 February to 26 March 1967 for another tour of the country.

1959 visit of Princess Alexandra

Image 50: Meeting members of the Junior Red Cross at Canberra airport, 14 August 1959.

Image 50: Meeting members of the Junior Red Cross at Canberra airport, 14 August 1959.
NAA: A1765, PA4
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Image 51: Princess Alexandra in Brisbane.

Image 51: Princess Alexandra in Brisbane.
NAA: A1765, PA111
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Image 53: Queenslanders awaiting the Princess’ arrival.

Image 53: Queenslanders awaiting the Princess’ arrival.
NAA: A1765, PA209
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Photographic records
Canberra
Series: A1765
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1959 Australian News and Information Bureau, Canberra (CA 219)
PHOTOGRAPHIC NEGATIVES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES WITH 'PA' (PRINCESS ALEXANDRA) PREFIX, 1959 A1765
Canberra
Series: A2752
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1959 Australian News and Information Bureau, Canberra (CA 219)
PHOTOGRAPHIC TRANSPARENCIES, SINGLE NUMBER WITH 'KAV' [VISIT OF PRINCESS ALEXANDRA, COLOUR] PREFIX A2752
Princess Alexandra's visit – overall Australian working plan, 1958–1960
Series: A463
Recorded by: 1956– Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Princess Alexandra's visit – overall Australian working plan, 1958–1960 A463, 1958/4005
Princess Alexandra's visit 1959 – financial arrangements A463, 1958/4006
Princess Alexandra's visit – discussions on itinerary with London A463, 1958/4007
Queensland centenary celebrations 1959 – invitation to Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra A463, 1958/4011
Princess Alexandra's visit 1959 – press cuttings A463, 1958/4049
Visit of Princess Alexandra 1959 – meeting with State Directors A463, 1958/4442
Princess Alexandra's visit to Australia – general representations

Contains letters from individuals and organisations requesting visits from or the patronage of Princess Alexandra. The file also contains letters complaining that the Princess' tour itinerary did not include Western Australia.

The file includes another example of public disapproval at the excesses associated with royal visits. The following is an extract from a letter to the Prime Minister, dated 15 October 1959, from D W Anderson:

Two people I have discussed the question with are against the expense incurred in these trips and so am I. If any member of Royalty comes here, I, as a taxpayer and elector, hold the view that that member should pay his or her own expenses out of the allowance granted by the British Parliament or the Crown.
A463, 1959/3112

The file includes another example of public disapproval at the excesses associated with royal visits. The following is an extract from a letter to the Prime Minister, dated 15 October 1959, from D W Anderson:

Two people I have discussed the question with are against the expense incurred in these trips and so am I. If any member of Royalty comes here, I, as a taxpayer and elector, hold the view that that member should pay his or her own expenses out of the allowance granted by the British Parliament or the Crown.
Series: A463
Royal visit 1959 – ACT – Press arrangements A463, 1959/4232
Royal visit 1959 – PRO – Radio and television arrangements A463, 1959/4384
Royal visit 1959 – PRO – Queensland press planning, 1959–1960 A463, 1959/4387
Royal visit 1959 – PRO – Press releases A463, 1959/4390
Gifts for Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra A463, 1959/4478
Series: A705
Recorded by: 1922–1939 Air Services Branch (CA 778)
Visit of HRH Princess Alexandra servicing standards, 1938–1958 A705, 228/4/109 part 1
Series: A1209
Recorded by: 1957– Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Royal visit 1959 – Presentation of a brooch to HRH Princess Alexandra A1209, 1959/1023
Image 52: With Governor-General Sir William and Lady Slim, 14 August 1959.

Image 52: With Governor-General Sir William and Lady Slim, 14 August 1959.
NAA: A1765, PA28
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It was decided to present the Princess with a brooch to commemorate her visit. On previous visits, the Queen had been presented with a brooch depicting wattle and the Queen Mother with a brooch resembling hibiscus. It was decided to present Princess Alexandra with a brooch representing teatree blossoms. Photographs of this and the other designs that were considered by the Government are attached to this file.

The brooch eventually cost the Government £690. It was made of white gold and contained 400 diamonds, fifteen rubies and five tourmalines.

After the design had been formalised, there was a good deal of discussion as to when the brooch should be presented to the Princess. It was decided that the Prime Minister should present it to her at the State Ball in Canberra, but a cablegram from London dated 27 July 1959 raised doubts about this plan:

I gather that the Princess is genuinely disturbed and apprehensive at the prospect of receiving the gift during an interruption at the Ball and of having to make an impromptu speech which would be broadcast and televised at that time.

Nevertheless, the brooch was presented to the Princess at the Ball, but she was spared the anxiety of having to make a speech in return. Her polite response was, 'Thank you'.

Series: A1533
Recorded by: 1953–1960 Commonwealth Investigation Service, Central Office (CA 650)
Visit of HRH Princess Alexandra, 1959 A1533, 1959/477 parts 1–3

Part 1 of this file principally contains draft programs for Princess Alexandra's tour. It also details preliminary security arrangements.

Part 2 contains details of the security arrangements in place for the visit and holds very detailed itineraries of the numerous visits on the Princess' itinerary.

Part 3 holds details about security arrangements and the itinerary, but it also refers to an accident that occurred during the Princess' visit to Toowoomba. An Attorney-General's Department report dated 2 September 1959 held on the file explains the events of 25 August that lead to the death of Mrs Florence Case.

According to the report, Mrs Case had been standing on a bench in the public enclosure in order to see the Princess. One of the Commonwealth cars involved in the procession hit the side of the bench, knocking it over. Mrs Case, who was born in 1880, fell and suffered severe head injuries. She was examined by the royal physician, Wing Commander Kelly and was taken to Toowoomba Hospital where she later died.

Series: A1561
Recorded by: 1959–1967 Department of Air (CA 35)
Headquarters RAAF Darwin – Royal tour – Princess Alexandra of Kent A1561, 16/5/AIR part 1
Series: A1838
Recorded by: 1948–1970 Department of External Affairs (CA 18)
Visits to Australia of Notables from Abroad – Princess Alexandra, 1959 A1838, 1516/1/170
Series: A2908
Recorded by: 1930–1952 Australian High Commission, United Kingdom [London] (CA 241)
Visit of Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra to Australia, 1959 A2908, V71 parts 1–6
Series: A2942
Recorded by: 1930–1959 ACT Advisory Council (CA 491) (CA 491)
Civic welcome to HRH Princess Alexandra, 1959 A2942, 429A
Series: A6122
Recorded by: 1949– Australian Security Intelligence Organization (CA 1297)
Government Heads of State – Visits to Australia of the Princess Alexandria of Kent – ASIO file, 1959A6122, 1864 A6122, 1864
Series: A6895
Recorded by: 1956–1973 Australian News and Information Bureau, Canberra (CA 219)
Visit of Princess Alexandra, 1959

This file contains details about the itinerary of Princess Alexandra's tour and details about photographic and broadcasting arrangements.

A6895, N1959/38
Series: A8281
Recorded by: 1954–1973 Australian News and Information Bureau, Canberra (CA 219)
Photo album, Royal Visit 1959 A8281, 12
Series: M2130
Recorded by: The Hon Dame Annabelle Jane Mary Rankin DBE (CP 137)
Invitation to Ball at the City Hall, Brisbane, to meet Princess Alexandra of Kent M2130, 56
Brisbane
Series: BP257/1
ABC Scripts of Royal Tours, 1959 and 1963 BP257/1, Box 6

Royal visit of 1967

Princess Alexandra married Mr Angus Ogilvy in 1963. The Princess intended to come to Australia for a private holiday in early 1967 while her husband was in Asia and Australia conducting business. However, in addition to her holiday, Alexandra was persuaded by the Government and the media to officially visit Canberra and Melbourne on 3 March 1967, Hobart on 4 March, Melbourne again on 6 March and Sydney on 8 March.

Series: A463
Recorded by: 1956– Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Marriage of Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra – Australian gift

Australia's gift to the Princess on her wedding was a boxed set of eight silver candlesticks.

A463, 1963/569
Marriage of Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra – Australian gift

Contains photographs of Australia's wedding gift to the Princess.

A463, 1963/569 Attachment 1
Canberra
Series: A1200
Recorded by: 1950–1971 Australian News and Information Bureau, Canberra (CA 219)
Photograph of Princess Alexandra and Harold Holt

Additional photographs of the Princess' 1967 tour are contained within the main Australian News and Information Bureau photographic series, A1200. A list of these is available in the Reading Room in Canberra.

A1200, L60834
Series: A2908
Recorded by: 1930–1952 Australian High Commission, United Kingdom [London] (CA 241)
Visit of HRH Princess Alexandra and Mr Angus Ogilvy to Far East and Australia, 1966

This file details the Princess' initial decision to have a private holiday in Australia through to the announcement of her small official tour.

A2908, V94

Notes

Chapter notes | All notes

1 The Brisbane Telegraph, 5 November 1958, quoted in National Archives (ACT): A463, 1958/4049

2 The Courier-Mail quoted in NAA: A463, 1958/4049


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