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


3 King George V (1910–36)

Image 9: The opening of the First Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia in the Exhibition Building, Melbourne, 9 May 1901.

Image 9: The opening of the First Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia in the Exhibition Building, Melbourne, 9 May 1901.
NAA: A6180,, 4/3/77/5
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George V was the second eldest son of Edward VII and was a first cousin to the ill-fated Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. He first visited Australia with his elder brother Prince Albert aboard the HMS Bacchante in 1880. They were both midshipmen and George seemed destined for a professional career in the Navy.

All of this changed, however, when his brother, Prince Albert, heir to the throne, died in 1892 after contracting pneumonia. Prince George therefore became heir apparent and went on to marry his brother's former fiancee who later became Queen Mary.

George V visited Australia again with his wife as the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York in 1901. The purpose of the visit was to officially open the first Federal Parliament in the Exhibition Buildings of Melbourne in 1901. Their tour also included visits to New Zealand, South Africa and Canada.

George V ascended the throne on his father's death on 9 May 1910. It was during his reign, which spanned World War I, that the royal house abandoned the title the house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (or the house of Hanover or Brunswick) and became known as the house of Windsor. The change was brought about because of wartime opposition to all things German.

George and Mary had six children: Prince Edward, The Prince of Wales and later King Edward VIII and the Duke of Windsor; Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George, later King George VI; Princess Victoria; Prince Henry the Duke of Gloucester; Prince George the Duke of Kent; and Prince John.

The King himself was an avid stamp collector, not overly fond of the opera (when asked, he said that La Boheme was his favourite because, 'it's much the shortest'), and was inordinately fond of his parrot, Charlotte, who travelled with him whenever possible (it is not certain whether she shared his journeys to Australia).1

During their 1901 visit to Australia, the Daily Telegraph newspaper described the royal couple in the following manner:

The Duke is extremely pleasant faced and good natured but is apparently not a man of many words. He never displays the slightest sign of being bored, and though he has the capacity for preserving a masterly silence, he appears to take a keen interest in everything about him… The Duchess has simply captivated everybody. She is one of those women whose photographs don't do them justice. Mr See, our State Premier, who had a long conversation with her at Government House on Tuesday afternoon, says that she is one of the most charming women in the world.2

George V reigned from 1910 to his death on 20 January 1936. Queen Mary died in 1953.

The visit of George V and Queen Mary as the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, 1901

The Duke and Duchess' royal tour of 1901 was, at that stage, one of the most lavish undertaken by the monarchy. An Orient steamship liner had to be specially chartered for the voyage as no royal yacht could span the required distances between coaling ports.3 The Daily Telegraph's 'London correspondent' described the costs associated with the visit as follows:

The tour of the Duke and Duchess of York is likely to cost the British ratepayer a cool quarter of a million...The hire of the ship alone (the Ophir) is £70 000 and the cost of fitting her up has been no less that £56 000. Then, her coal bill of the entire tour is £25 000…4

The main records relating to the visit are:

COMMISSION TO OPEN FIRST COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENT SIGNED BY KING EDWARD VII, 1901
Canberra
Series: A4866
Quantity: 1.8 metres
Recorded by: 1901 Joint House Department (CA 693)

The document is a manuscript commission signed by His Majesty King Edward VII empowering the Duke of Cornwall and York to open the first Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia in Melbourne in 1901. The Commission was originally drawn up during Queen Victoria's reign and had been signed by her.

As the Queen died on 22 January 1901, nearly four months before the opening of the Commonwealth Parliament in May 1901, a new Commission signed by King Edward VII was required. The Commission has Queen Victoria's seal appended.

A4866
SOUVENIR INVITATION TO AUSTRALIAN COMMONWEALTH CELEBRATIONS AT FLEMINGTON, VICTORIA, 10 MAY 1901
Canberra
Series: A6989
Quantity: 0.24 metres
Recorded by: 1901 Department of Defence (CA 6)

This series consists of an outsize printed invitation to the Commonwealth Celebrations held at Flemington, Victoria, 10 May 1901. It was issued to Mr J McLaughlin and Lady to attend the Royal Review. Printed on cardboard, the invitation is ornate. On the back is written 'Presented by Lt. W B O'Neill AIC' (presumably to the Department of Defence).

A6989
PHOTOGRAPH OF OFFICERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, FIRST PARLIAMENT 1901
Canberra
Series: A8465
Quantity: 0.09 metres
Recorded by: 1901 Department of the House of Representatives (CA 692)

This series consists of one black and white photograph of officers of the House of Representatives of the first Commonwealth Parliament opened in the Exhibition Building in Melbourne on 9 May 1901.

A8465
BOUND FACSIMILES OF PROGRAMMES AND INVITATIONS ISSUED TO MR AND MRS P A O'BYRNE ON THE OCCASION OF THE OPENING OF THE FIRST PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA
Canberra
Series: M581
Quantity: 0.27 metres
Recorded by: Justin Hilary O'Byrne (CP 252)
M581
R G CASEY (SENIOR) – INVITATIONS TO EVENTS RELATING TO THE OPENING OF PARLIAMENT 1901
Melbourne

This series consists of invitations to events connected with the opening of the first Australian Federal Parliament.

Series: M1615
Quantity: 0.23 metres
Recorded by: 1901 The Rt Hon Richard Gardiner Casey Baron of Berwick, Victoria, PC, GCMG, CH, DSO, MC (CP 24)
M1615
PAPERS RELATING TO THE VISIT OF THEIR ROYAL HIGHNESSES THE DUKE AND DUCHESS OF YORK AND THE DEATH OF QUEEN VICTORIA 1901
Melbourne

Bound volume containing manuscript and typed correspondence of Rear-Admiral Beaumont, Commander-in-Chief, Australian station – orders, gazette extracts, telegrams and other papers, in connection with (among other things) the Royal visit to Australia, 1901. This series also contains information about the death of Queen Victoria and the coronation of Edward VII.

Series: MP124/1
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1901–1902 Department of Defence (CA 6)
MP124/1
Invitation FROM THE MINISTERS OF STATE FOR AUSTRALIA TO MR AND MRS H LYALL HALL TO MEET THEIR ROYAL HIGHNESSES THE DUKE AND DUCHESS OF CORNWALL AND YORK, AT AN EVENING RECEPTION IN CELEBRATION OF THE OPENING OF PARLIAMENT AND THE COMMONWEALTH, 1901
Perth
Series: PP608/1
Quantity: 0.54 metres
Recorded by: 1901 Henry Lyall Hall MHR (CP 538)
PP608/1
Image 10: The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York departing after laying the foundation stone of the Museum of Perth, 24 July 1901.

Image 10: The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York departing after laying the foundation stone of the Museum of Perth, 24 July 1901.
NAA: A1721, 41
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The opening of the first Federal Parliament in Melbourne's Exhibition Buildings appears to have been a large and glittering event:

Monday's gathering of thousands and thousands to see the Duke and Duchess drive through Melbourne [after their arrival in the city] has been described as a sea of humanity, a swollen stream seven miles long. Today (the day of the opening of Parliament) one cannot avoid comparing Melbourne to a tossing, seething ocean.5

Apart from the royal couple, invited international guests at the opening of Parliament included:

The Honourable William Mulocke, his wife and son – Post-Master General of Canada Major General Sir EH Collen of India and wife The Honourable W Taylor, Colonial Secretary, Ceylon The Honourable John Frost, Cape Colony

In addition, over 300 guests from New Zealand were in attendance as well as hundreds of guests from each state of Australia.6

The Salvation Army was commissioned by the Victorian Government to shoot film footage of the royal visit to Melbourne and the events surrounding the Parliament's opening. Portions of this film are now available on a National Film and Sound Archive video called Living Melbourne.7

The Daily Telegraph's description of the atmosphere stated that:

The opening of Parliament was carried out in a manner extremely worthy of the occasion. All the surrounds were magnificent – the crowded streets outside the great Exhibition, with thousands of faces stretching away to the right and left, and in front of the dazzling uniforms of the visitors, the array of brilliant costumes and gorgeous dresses, forming a fitting setting for a celebration so grand, so unique, so essentially patriotic… The fact that the Duke of Cornwall and York was to perform the ceremony added enormously to the public interest in the function.8

The strongly 'Australian' publication, The Bulletin, however saw the day differently:

The opening of the first Parliament of all Australia was an event large enough to stand alone. It wanted no tawdry trappings, no small accidental prince, no flags, no lank flapping frills and gaily coloured rags to make it memorable… Amid the circumstances which attended the union of a continent and the beginning of a nation there moved though a thin undersized man who has never done anything save be born, and grow up, and get married and exist by breathing regularly and be the son of his father who did the same things. And in the public eye he was, apparently, about three quarters of the pageant. The men who made the Commonwealth were eclipsed… by the man who has made nothing of any importance.9
Files relating to the royal visit and the opening of the first Federal Parliament
Series: A2
Recorded by: 1904–1911 Prime Minister's Office (CA 588)
Painting of the landing of the Duke of York in May 1901, £525, Cabinet approved, 1911–1912 – Recorded by: 1904–1911 Prime Minister's Office (CA 588) A2, 1912/428
Files relating to the royal visit and the opening of the first Federal Parliament
Melbourne
Series: A6
Recorded by: 1901 Department of External Affairs, Melbourne (CA 7)
Visit of Imperial troops to Melbourne, 1901 – Recorded by: 1901 Department of External Affairs, Melbourne (CA 7) A6, 1901/74
The citizens' committee re the entertainment to the men of the Royal Navy and the Imperial troops at the Town Hall, Sydney, 1901 A6, 1901/219
Copy of songs by G W Pickering on visit of Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York to Australia, 1901 A6, 1901/463
Arrangement for Military Display at reception of Duke and Duchess of York, 1901 A6, 1901/485
Letter 28 February 1901 to PM from J Bradshaw asking that the Royal Party visiting Australia should include Port Darwin in its itinerary, 1901 A6, 1901/495
Papers relating to the Proposal to open Parliament with Prayer, 1901 A6, 1901/617
Congratulatory letters on opening ceremony of the first Commonwealth Parliament, 1901 A6, 1901/741
Papers in regard to representation of India, Cape Colony, Natal, Ceylon and Canada at Commonwealth celebration of opening of the New Parliament, 1901 A6, 1901/786
Commonwealth Arch, 1901

Decorative arches constructed across city streets have been a prominent aspect of many royal visits. The royal visit in 1901 was no exception. This file contains a letter from Melbourne's Town Clerk requesting that the new Government construct a 'Commonwealth Arch' to symbolise and celebrate Federation along the route to the Exhibition Buildings. The file also contains the Government's response to this request.

A6, 1901/790
Commission empowering HRH the Duke of York to Open Federal Parliament, 1901 A6, 1901/839
Presentation of medals to those who served in South African campaign by the royal highness, 1901 A6, 1901/857
Programme of the cruise of HMS Ophir with Duke and Duchess of York on visit to Australia, 1901 A6, 1901/864
Suggested Creation of Office and Title, Prince of Australia and Purchase of Kerguelen Island, 1901 A6, 1901/869
Proposal to send a detachment of Fijian Armed Native Constabulary on occasion of opening of Federal Parliament, 1901 A6, 1901/888
Suggested creation of title 'Prince of Australia' from CWD Goodchap, 1901 A6, 1901/912
Acceptance of Invitations to Federal Functions at Melbourne by State Governors, 1901 A6, 1901/913
Re free rail passes to wives and lady relatives of Members of Parliament attending Melbourne Celebrations, 1901 A6, 1901/939
Suggestions on the procedure of the opening of Parliament, 1901 A6, 1901/999
Royal visit of Duke & Duchess of York, 1901

Contains correspondence regarding the visit of a Man of War (battleship) belonging to the Imperial Russian Navy which was to be in Melbourne in connection with the opening of the first Federal Parliament. Naval representatives were also sent by the French, Indian, German and Netherland governments.

A6, 1901/1009
Despatch of flagships for visit of His Royal Highness, 1901 A6, 1901/1010
Invitation to Prime Minister Barton on visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York to the city of Ballarat, 1901 A6, 1901/1024
Opening of the First Parliament, 1901 A6, 1901/1073
Powers of the Governor-General in connection with opening of Parliament, 1901 A6, 1901/1118
Question of holidays dealing with the Royal family, 1901 A6, 1901/1150
The gift of Her Majesty the Queen to the federal government, 1901–1973 A6, 1901/1151
Military Arrangements and Details of Ceremonial Parades at the Commonwealth Celebrations Melbourne, 6 May 1901 A6, 1901/1202
Dr Tom Roberts' painting of the opening of Federal Parliament, 1901

This file contains correspondence regarding the painting of the Parliament's opening ceremony.

In a letter dated 29 April 1901, from a Mr Jefferson to Prime Minister Barton, Mr Jefferson asked the following:

Regarding the ceremony... I am respectfully desirous of submitting for your consideration a proposal to have the scene depicted on canvas ... We propose to have a series of photographs taken under the direction of the artist who is to finally execute the work, and also to subsequently obtain individual photographs of members of both Houses and distinguished guests: and private sittings where practicable, to enable the artist to do full justice to the picture.

Jefferson informed Barton that J C Waite had been commissioned to paint the picture. However, in a letter to Barton dated 23 May, Jefferson wrote:

I now beg to advise that in consequence of Mr Waite's expressed lack of confidence in his ability to do justice to the subject, we have entrusted the work to Mr Tom Roberts who has undertaken to paint the picture. This gentleman is desirous of getting sittings of the Duke and Duchess of York before they leave Australia, if possible…

A6, 1901/1337
Distribution of Invitations, 1901 A6, 1901/1365
Paper re public school cadets taking part in the official reception of Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, 1901 A6, 1901/1368
Request to Duke of York to view Eden, 1901 A6, 1901/1400
Suggestion of Prayer to open the Parliament, 1901 A6, 1901/1464
Re Quarantining of Ormuz Passengers, 1901

The Ormuz was a vessel carrying Italian dissidents who had allegedly made threats to the safety of the Duke and Duchess during their visit to Australia. The Ormuz was therefore quarantined which meant its passengers were effectively imprisoned for the duration of the royal visit. For further information about this incident, see A6661, 30 listed below.

A6, 1901/1719
Letters, Reports, Press cuttings and statements of Account in connection with Furnishings and supplies at Exhibition Building during the Royal Visit, May 1901 A6, 1901/183
Papers re Provision and costs of Police Horses for use of visiting Royalty and Staff, 1901 A6, 1901/183
Re Employment Detectives from WA & SA during Royal Visit to Melbourne, 1901

File primarily discusses whether the detectives' salaries should be paid from the states' or the Commonwealth's royal visit funds.

A6, 1901/1862
Appointment of Detective Inspector TM Christie, 1901

Mr Christie was responsible for many of the security arrangements during the royal visit.

A6, 1901/2010
Charges for telegrams despatched by staff of Duke of Cornwall and York, 1901 A6, 1901/2027
Invitation to attend ceremony to welcome Royal Highness in Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia, 1901 A6, 1901/2034
Letter from His Royal Highness, the Duke of Cornwall and York re inauguration of the first Parliament, 1901 A6, 1901/2062
Historic memorials – Opening of first Federal Parliament
Series: A462
Recorded by: 1951–1955 Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Historic memorials – Opening of first Federal Parliament – Papers relating, an exhibition of painting of opening of Parliament 1901 during jubilee celebrations, 1926–1948 A462, 778/12
International Copyright Registration with exhibit
Series: A1714
Recorded by: 1907–1912 Australian Industrial Property Organisation (CA 555)
Photograph of painting of HRH Duke of York opening the first Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1908 A1714, 11
Copyright Registration with exhibit
Series: A1721
Recorded by: 1896–1905 Patent Office, WA (CA 1257)
Alfred John Moulton – Photograph of their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, Museum of Perth, plus returned unclaimed letter to F Stringer Esquire, 1901 A1721, 41
Copyright Registration with exhibit – Hail Royal Prince, 1901
Series: A1723
Recorded by: 1897–1906 Patent Office, WA (CA 1257)
Copyright Registration with exhibit – Hail Royal Prince, 1901

This item is a fully orchestrated musical ode 'specially composed and respectfully dedicated to Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York on the occasion of their visit to Western Australia by Frederick Miller'.

Lyrics include: 'Hail Royal Prince, Welcome to our shores, Son of our King, our future King to be, thy gracious Consort too, We greet thee…'

A1723, 85
Series: A1786
Recorded by: 1870–1907 Registrar of Copyrights, Vic (CA 1400)
Victoria Racing Club. Duke of York's Birthday Meeting, 1901, Official Card A1786, 9664B
Victoria Racing Club. Duke of York's Birthday Meeting, 1901 – Official Programme, 1901 A1786, 9665B
Series: A6006
Recorded by: 1911 Cabinet
Painting of the Landing of the Duke of York in May 1901, 1911 A6006, 1911/9/19
Series: A6585
Recorded by: 1899–1907 Chief Secretary's Office, Qld (CA 4422)
Presentation of medals by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Cornwall and York, 1901–1903 A6585, 1903/1718
Series: A6661
Recorded by: 1888–1936 Governor-General (CA 1)
Governor-General's expenses during Royal Visit, 1901 A6661, 29
Visit of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York, 1900–1902

The file contains numerous pieces of correspondence, principally between the Governor-General (Lord Hopetoun), the State Governors, the Prime Minister (Mr Barton) and the British authorities.

In a telegram dated 15 January 1901 from Chamberlain, the British Colonial Secretary, to Hopetoun, Chamberlain discusses numerous proposals for the royal visit. He suggested that the Duke and Duchess should arrive in Australia in late April and leave no later than mid July.

In discussing particular activities and arrangements in each of the states, the only practical suggestion Chamberlain had to offer was, 'I understand that good duck shooting is to be had in Queensland'.

The file also contains details of threats to the royal couple allegedly made by 'Italian anarchists' aboard the Ormuz. These threats lead to an intensified police presence during this royal tour.

A6661, 30
Correspondence relating to the opening of the First Parliament, 1901–1926

This file contains administrative details about the opening of Parliament. It includes arrangements for the Letters Patent authorising the opening of the Federal Parliament to be signed again by Edward VII after the death of Queen Victoria and also contains telegrams from numerous Australian and international dignitaries accepting the invitation to attend the opening ceremony.

A6661, 184
Proceedings at the opening of Commonwealth Parliament, 1901–1910 A6661, 185
Material borrowed re Royal Visit arrangements, 1901–1920
Series: A6678
Recorded by: 1920–1922 Commonwealth Organizer, Royal Visit (CA 1051)
Material borrowed re Royal Visit arrangements, 1901–1920

This item, although it comes from a record series compiled during the royal visit of 1920, principally contains information relating to the royal visit of 1901. The information was used as a guide during the planning stages of the 1920 tour.

A6678, R5/5/3
Royal Review of Commonwealth Troops. Expression of praise by Duke of Cornwall and York, 1901
Melbourne
Series: B168
Recorded by: 1901–1906 Department of Defence (CA 6)
Royal Review of Commonwealth Troops. Expression of praise by Duke of Cornwall and York, 1901 B168, 1901/454
Pay for troops in connection with departure of Duke of York & Cornwall, 1901 B168, 1901/641
Review of Troops – Hobart – Expression of praise by Duke of York and Cornwall, 1901 B168, 1901/1363
Review of South Australian forces by Duke of York & Cornwall, 1901 B168, 1901/1773
Series: M3816
Recorded by: 1860–1966 Rt Hon Sir Eric John Harrison KCMG KCVO (CP 648)
Regulations, Arrangements and Orders to be observed in connection with the public functions of the visit of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, Sydney, 1901.

Booklet contained within the personal records collection of Sir Eric John Harrison (the Minister in Charge of the Royal Visit, 1954), detailing the traffic arrangements made in connection with the royal visit to Sydney in 1901.

The section entitled City Illuminations contains the following warning:

Citizens illuminating their premises are enjoined to exercise the utmost care to prevent the lights from setting fire to buildings, also to have appliances to hand to promptly extinguish a fire should such unfortunately take place.

M3816, 7 part 1
Invitation 'In celebration of the Opening Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, to meet Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, 9 May 1901, 8 o'clock' M3816, 7 part 1
Series: M1508
Recorded by: 1904–1958 Sir Kenneth Hamilton Bailey CBE, QC (CP 71)
Programme of celebrations, during the visit of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, 1901 M1508, 90
Honours for investment by His Royal Highness in May 1901
Series: CP78/4
Recorded by: 1901–1914 Governor-General (CA 1)
Honours for investment by His Royal Highness in May 1901 CP78/4, Bundle 2/20
Royal visits. Her Majesty's visit in 1901 (Queen Mary), 1920 CP78/22, 1920/945

The coronation of George V

George V was crowned on 23 June 1911. Australia was represented at the coronation by Prime Minister Fisher and his wife who attended as official guests. In addition, the government sent 12 members of the House of Representatives and 6 members of the Senate as official representatives.

Series: A461
Recorded by: 1934–1950 Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Coronation – King George V, 1910–1936 A461, F396/1/2
Series: M3816
Recorded by: 1860–1966 Rt Hon Sir Eric John Harrison KCMG KCVO (CP 648)
Excerpt from Daily Telegraph (Sydney) 23 June 1911 – Coronation of George V, 1911
Collected by: 1860–1966 Rt Hon Sir Eric John Harrison KCMG KCVO
M3816, 38
Series: A458
Recorded by: 1923–1934 Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Coronation of King George V Commemoration Tapestry, 1924 A458, N370/3
Examples of general records associated with the reign of George V
Recorded by: 1903–1907 Department of External Affairs, Melbourne (CA 7)
A1, 1918/14865

One of the telegrams on this file reads:

Erectable Orangemen residents reprovigna their loyalty and devotion gowlhood hindley occubas bedsides.

This wartime code translates as 'Executive Council, on behalf of residents, request their loyalty and devotion conveyed to His Majesty the King on the occasion of His Majesty's birthday'.

Birthday Greetings to King George V from residents of Norfolk Island, 1915–1918
Series: A1861
Recorded by: 1907–1913 Australian Industrial Property Organisation (CA 555)
Print. George V and Mary Encircled by a Wedding Ring for Sovereign Wedding Rings. Registration and Exhibit, 1910 A1861, 1527
Series: A6661
Recorded by: 1888–1936 Governor-General (CA 1)
HM the King George V Date of Celebration of the Birthday of His Majesty the King, 1911–1914 A6661, 1
HM King George V Birthday, 1920 A6661, 6
HM King George V Birthday 1921 A6661, 7
HM the King and Queen (George V) Request for Autographs for Photos, 1920 A6661, 8
HM the King (George V) and Queen – Gifts etc, 1921–1927 A6661, 11
Sydney
Series: C102
Recorded by: Australian Broadcasting Commission, Head Office - Radio Archives (CA 251)
His Majesty King George and Queen Mary – Empire Day Message to boys and girls of Commonwealth (audio tape), circa 1932 C102, RO6

Disapproval over the appointment of Sir Isaac Isaacs as the Governor-General

In 1930, during the reign of George V, Sir Isaac Isaacs, a former Chief Justice of the High Court, was appointed by Prime Minister Scullin's Labor Government as the first Australian born Governor-General. His appointment triggered large scale opposition both within the Government and abroad. George V himself was opposed to the appointment of a 'local man' instead of an appointee from Britain, who could better unite the Empire.10

The majority of protests emanating from Australia focussed on the fact that an Australian appointee could not be politically impartial and would jeopardise the ties of Empire. A letter from the leader of the Opposition, John Latham, to Sir Josiah Symon, dated 16 December 1930, emphasises this point:

I feel that the present Government has weakened every tie that binds us to the Mother Country and that holds the Empire together, and that it is also making Australia unpopular throughout the world.11

A number of letters from members of the public who wrote to Latham to express their opposition to Isaacs' appointment are contained on the following file which is held amongst Mr Latham's personal papers:

Series: CP450/3
Recorded by: 1929–1931 The Rt Hon Sir John Greig Latham PC, GCMG (CP 148)
Governor-General (Re appointment of Sir Isaac Isaacs by the Scullin Government) CP450/3 Bundle 1/4

The death of King George V

King George died on 21 January 1936. His death was commemorated by a period of national mourning throughout Australia and the rest of the Commonwealth. A cablegram from the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs sent the day the king died set the following stringent requirements:

Places of entertainment will be closed today, thereafter remaining open until the day of the funeral when they will close until 6pm.

Broadcasting stations will remain closed for the rest of today except for repetition at intervals announcement of the death, announcement of news of outstanding importance, and addresses. Until the day of the funeral a single programme will be given at the usual hour but omitting any lighter material which might offend public opinions.12

Public servants were dismissed early on the day of his death as a mark of respect for the King. The Gazette Extraordinary No 8 of 22 January 1936 also directed military officers to wear black armbands until 20 July and specified that black mourning crepe should be hung from the trumpets of the cavalry.13

Series: A1
Recorded by: 1932–1938 Department of the Interior (CA 27)
Death King George V, 1936

This file helps to demonstrate the administrative effects of the death of a King: In a letter dated 27 January 1936, the Secretary of the Prime Minister's Department wrote to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior to discuss the issue of the use of black edged notepaper. It was decided that all official international correspondence would require black edged paper.

A1, 1936/1807
Death of His Majesty King George V – Effect on Certificate of Naturalisation, 1936

Again, this file demonstrates the administrative impact of the death of a monarch.

A1, 1936/2091
King George V Memorial – Erection of in Canberra Part 1, 1936 A1, 1936/2140
King George V – National Memorial University – Proposed foundation of, Canberra, 1936

On 3 February 1936 the Territory for the Seat of Government Advisory Council passed the following resolution:

That this council recommends to the Federal Government through the Minister for the Interior, desirability of founding a King George National Memorial University in Canberra as an expression of Australia wide appreciation of a great and illustrious king.

The idea had been promoted before but it was not until August 1946 that legislation was enacted to establish the Australian National University.

A1, 1936/3637
Series: A432
Recorded by: 1901–1970 Attorney-General's Department (CA 5)
Re the death of His Late Majesty King George V, proclamation, 1935–1944 A432, 1936/81
Series: A461
Recorded by: 1934–1950 Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
King George V – Memorial at Canberra, 1936–1943

A design by G Raynor Hoff of Sydney was chosen by the National Memorials Committee for the official George V Memorial in May 1936. Mr Hoff undertook to complete the design for £19 444. However, shortly after signing the contract, Mr Hoff died. Mr J E Moorfield, also of Sydney, was therefore engaged by the Committee to complete the project. The completed design which, due to delays caused by the war, was not finished until 1943, was comprised of a large bronze figure of the king and a statue of the King on horseback.

The memorial is situated at the front of Old Parliament House in Canberra.

A461, O370/1/8
Death of King George V, 1936 A461, G396/1/2
Death of King George V, 1936
Series: A518
Recorded by: 1928–1941 Territories Branch, PM's Department (CA 822)
Territories – Death of George V and accession of Edward VIII, 1936 A518, DU112/1
Series: A664
Recorded by: 1924–1939 Department of Defence (CA 19)
Death of HM King George V, 1936 A664, 486/401/317
Series: A981
Recorded by: 1927–1942 Department of External Affairs (CA 18)
Condolences – Messages of Condolence on the death of His Majesty King George V, 1936 A981, COND 3
Series: A2910
Recorded by: 1918–1960 Australian High Commission, London (CA 241)
Death of King George V, 1932–1936 A2910, 416/1/104
Series: A3522
Recorded by: 1935–1953 Governor-General (CA 1)
Death of King George V 20/1/36, 1932–1936 A3522, Box 1/1

The death of the King is poignantly captured in numerous telegrams attached to this file from Wigram, the Private Secretary to the King, to Sir Isaac Isaacs, the Australian Governor-General:

18 January 1936 – 'The King has a cold which is not severe but there are signs of cardiac weakness which must be regarded with some disquiet. Please inform Governors Australian states. Wigram'

20 January 1936 – 'The condition of the King shows diminishing strength…'

21 January 1936 – 'The King's life is moving peacefully towards its close. Signed Wigram.'

21 January 1936 – 'Profoundly regret to state that his Majesty King George V passed away just before midnight. Please inform Prime Minister… Wigram'

The Governor-General received another telegram on 26 January, this time from the new King, Edward VIII which was to be conveyed to both Houses of Parliament:

…On behalf of Queen Mary and myself I thank you most sincerely for your kind message of sympathy in our great loss. I have received with deep appreciation your expressions of loyalty to myself on my accession to the throne and your prayers for the happiness of my reign. It will always be my earnest endeavour under divine providence to follow the example of duty and devotion of the welfare of the Empire which was set by my dear father.

The Commonwealth Government Gazette stated on 23 January that the day of the King's funeral, 28 January, would be declared a public holiday. However a telegram from London on 23 January lead to the revocation of the proclamation in the next issue of the Gazette. The telegram read:

It is announced that Tuesday next, the day of the funeral of the late King, will not be proclaimed as a day of public mourning since it is felt that the suspension of business activities involved would probably cause widespread hardship and loss (as much of the industrialised world was still suffering from the effects of the Great Depression).
Series: A6006
Recorded by: 1937 Cabinet
King George V Memorial – Exhibition of Designs, 1937 A6006, 1937/04/21
Series: AA1972/341
Recorded by: 1950–1971 Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
King George V Memorial at Canberra, 1936 AA1972/341, 198
Sydney
Series: C102
Recorded by: Australian Broadcasting Commission, Head Office - Radio Archives (CA 251)
King George V Memorial, Canberra – Unveiling Ceremony (audio tape), 1953 C102, OC35
Series: CP945/1
Recorded by: 1938–1939 Department of the Interior (CA 27)
King George V Memorial Canberra. Specification dated November 1939 by Harry Foskett, Architect, Sydney, 1936 CP945/1, 5
King George V Memorial Canberra. Lloyds of London Insurance Policy No SB9/1844 dated 29 Dec 1939 in name of John Edward Moorfield and C'wealth of Australia, 1940 CP945/1, 7

The death of Queen Mary

According to Sir Henry Channon, 'her appearance was formidable, her manner – well, it was like talking to St Paul's Cathedral'.14 However, Australian expressions of grief at the death of Queen Mary in 1953 were numerous and sincere.

The death of Queen Mary
Series: A462
Recorded by: 1951–1955 Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Royalty – Death of Queen Mary – General, 1953–1954 A462, 821/1/114
Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II – Death of Queen Mary – Messages, 1953 A462, 821/1/115
Royalty – Death of Queen Mary – Press cuttings, 1953 A462, 821/1/116
Series: A1838
Recorded by: 1948–1970 Department of External Affairs (CA 18)
Protocol – Death of Queen Mary, 1953

Contains letters of sympathy from numerous diplomatic representatives in Australia to the Australian government. In addition it also contains messages from Australian individuals, councils and organisations, expressing their sympathy.

For example, the Douglas Shire Council of Queensland forwarded the following telegram:

Kindly request His Excellency the Governor-General to humbly convey on behalf of the Douglas Shire Council and their people deepest sympathy to Her Majesty the Queen and members of the royal family on the passing of our honoured and greatly beloved Queen Mary.

A1838, 1516/49
Sydney
Series: A2910
Recorded by: 1918–1960 Australian High Commission, London (CA 241)
Death of Her Majesty Queen Mary, 1953 A2910, 416/1/174

Prince John

Prince John, the youngest son of George and Mary died in 1919 at the age of fourteen. The two files below dealing with his death contain messages of sympathy to his family from all manner of Australians, from the NSW Graziers' Association to the Municipality of Concord.

Series: A461
Recorded by: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Royal Family – Prince John, 1919 A461, G396/1/4
Series: CP78/22
Recorded by: 1912–1927 Governor-General (CA 1)
Royalty – Death of His Royal Highness Prince John, 1919 CP78/22, 1919/44

The death of Princess Victoria

Princess Victoria was the only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary and she died in 1935. The following files record official notices of condolence.

Series: A461
Recorded by: 1934–1950 Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Royal Family – The Princess Victoria, 1935 A461, H396/1/4
Series: A518
Recorded by: 1928–1941 Territories Branch, Prime Minister's Department (CA 822)
Death of Princess Victoria, 1935 A518, DS112/1

Notes

Chapter notes | All notes

1 Elizabeth Langford (ed), The Oxford Book of Royal Anecdotes, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1989, p.440

2 The Daily Telegraph, 9 May 1901, p.5

3 Anon, 'Australia's first films – The royal visit films of 1901' in Cinema Papers No 103, March 1995, p.40

4 The Daily Telegraph, 9 May 1901, p.4

5 The Daily Telegraph, 10 May 1901, p.5

6 Our invited guests for the opening of the first Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. An official directory of the guests invited to Melbourne May 9 1901, Leslie W Craw, Melbourne 1901

7 'Australia's first films', op cit, p.42

8 The Daily Telegraph, 10 May 1901, p.5

9 The Bulletin, 18 May 1901, p.6

10 John Ritchie (ed) Australian Dictionary of Biography Vol 9: 1891–1939, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne 1990, p.448

11 National Archives of Australia (NAA): CP450/3, Bundle 1/4

12 NAA: A461, G396/1/2

13 NAA: A461, G396/1/2

14 Langford (ed), p.439


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