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


5 King George VI (1936–52)

Image 18: The future King George VI with his wife at the opening of Parliament House Canberra in 1927.

Image 18: The future King George VI with his wife at the opening of Parliament House Canberra in 1927.
NAA: A3560, 3058
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George VI was born on 14 December 1895. He was King from 10 December 1936 until his death on 6 February 1952. He was succeeded by his daughter who became Queen Elizabeth II.

George became the King when his brother Edward VIII abdicated. Upon ascending the throne he said 'With my wife [Elizabeth] as helpmeet at my side, I take up the heavy task that lies before me. In it I look for the support of all my peoples.'1 The new King felt unprepared to assume this role. He was untrained in matters of state and suffered from a pronounced stutter that made public speaking difficult. To combat the latter problem, he started work with an Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue. He gave the Duke tongue twisters to practise on, and both men laughed over the patient's variable successes with… 'She sifted seven thick stalked thistles through a strong, thick sieve.'2 The treatment was ultimately successful.

In addition to the royal visit of 1927, other tours of Australia by the couple were planned in 1949 and then again in 1952. Both of these tours however had to be cancelled due to the King's ill health. Information about records relating to these proposed tours can be found in Chapter 7.

Royal visit 1927

King George and his wife visited Australia as the Duke and Duchess of York in 1927. They were the royal representatives at the opening of the provisional Parliament House in Canberra on 9 May 1927. The couple arrived in Australia on 26 March and departed the country on 23 May.

According to the itinerary, it was decided that the Duke and Duchess would spend twelve days of their tour in New South Wales, seven days in Queensland, four days in Tasmania, eleven days in Victoria, six days in South Australia, three days in the Australian Capital Territory and six days in Western Australia. The remaining ten days of the tour were either to be spent travelling or used as recreation days by the couple.3

In his report to the Prime Minister, Brudenell White, the Director-General in charge of the 1927 royal visit remarked that 'the outstanding feature of the tour was unquestionably the remarkable display, by all sections of the community, of loyalty and affection to the representatives of His Majesty the King. It would be difficult even in imagination to picture a welcome of greater warmth or more sincere respect and affection than was everywhere in Australia accorded to Their Royal Highnesses.'4

The royal visit of 1927 was organised by the Commonwealth Director of the Royal Tour 1927 (CA 1052). This agency was a part of the Prime Minister's Department. It created three series of records in the custody of the National Archives. Details of these and several other record series relating to the tour are as follows:

GLASS LANTERN SLIDES OF THE 1927 OPENING OF PARLIAMENT HOUSE, 1927
Canberra
Series: A3348
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1927 Department of the House of Representatives (CA 692)
GLASS LANTERN SLIDES OF THE 1927 OPENING OF PARLIAMENT HOUSE, 1927 and other contemporary scenes

The slides are in excellent physical condition, housed in a polished wooden partition box with dovetails, brass hinges and slide catches. They were presented in 1947 to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Hon Mr John Solomon Rosevear, in whose private vault the slides had been housed. Their functional origin and creator are unknown but it would appear from the system of control symbols (several and disassociated) that the slides are a selection from a much larger collection.

A3348
ADDRESS PRESENTED ON THE OCCASION OF THE OPENING OF PARLIAMENT HOUSE 9 MAY 1927
Canberra
Series: A4867
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1927 Joint House Department (CA 693)
ADDRESS PRESENTED ON THE OCCASION OF THE OPENING OF PARLIAMENT HOUSE 9 MAY 1927

The series consists of one document, a manuscript of the address delivered by Prince Albert (later King George VI), on the occasion of the opening of Parliament House Canberra.

A4867
PRINCIPAL RECORD SERIES OF THE COMMONWEALTH DIRECTOR OF THE ROYAL TOUR OF 1927, 1926–1928
Canberra
Series: A6680
Quantity: 3.96 metres
Recorded by: 1926–1928 Director of Royal Tour (CA 1052)
PRINCIPAL RECORD SERIES OF THE COMMONWEALTH DIRECTOR OF THE ROYAL TOUR OF 1927, 1926–1928

Correspondence and administrative files arranged in a multiple number sequence according to general subject headings. The files document the work of the Commonwealth Director and his staff in organising the Royal Visit. Although correspondence was being received as early as July 1926, notations made on folios suggest that the filing system was not commenced until September 1926. The series continued after the successful completion of the Royal Tour, until finalisation of financial and administrative matters related to the Tour.

A6680
REGISTRATION BOOK FOR A6680, CORRESPONDENCE AND ADMINISTRATIVE FILES, 1926–1927
Canberra
Series: A6681
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1926–1927 Director of Royal Tour (CA 1052)
REGISTRATION BOOK FOR A6680, CORRESPONDENCE AND ADMINISTRATIVE FILES, 1926–1927

This series consists of an incomplete index booklet for the correspondence and administrative files relating to the 1927 Royal Visit (series A6680). Only two pages of the booklet have been written on and only include entries for files up to DY7 of the correspondence file series which has files up to DY73/1.

A6681
FILE OF DEFENCE LIAISON OFFICER, 1926–1927
Canberra
Series: A6682
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1926–1927 Director of Royal Tour (CA 1052)
FILE OF DEFENCE LIAISON OFFICER, 1926–1927

Single file kept by the Defence Liaison Officer on the staff of the Commonwealth Director for the 1927 Royal Visit. It details financial procedures to be followed in connection with this Royal Visit and duplicates material in the main correspondence file series of the Commonwealth Director.

A6682
ADMINISTRATIVE AND GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ROYAL VISIT 1927
Canberra
Series: A6976
Quantity: 0.90 metres
Recorded by: 1926–1927 Federal Capital Commission – Royal Visit Section (CA 226)
ADMINISTRATIVE AND GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ROYAL VISIT 1927

Records the planning and arrangements made by the Federal Capital Commission for the ceremonial opening of Parliament House on 9 May 1927, along with other functions associated with the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York to Canberra.

A6976
UNREGISTERED CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ROYAL VISIT 1927
Canberra
Series: A6977
Quantity: 0.36 metres
Recorded by: 1926–1927 Federal Capital Commission – Royal Visit Section (CA 226)
UNREGISTERED CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ROYAL VISIT 1927

Working papers with a small amount of correspondence, relating to the Royal Visit of the Duke and Duchess of York to Canberra in May 1927 for the purpose of opening Parliament House.

A6977
ROYAL VISIT 1927, OPENING CEREMONY FILE INDEX, 1926–1927
Canberra
Series: A6978
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1926–1927 Federal Capital Commission – Royal Visit Section (CA 226)
ROYAL VISIT 1927, OPENING CEREMONY FILE INDEX, 1926–1927

The series consists of multiple copies of an index of files, one card, marked 'File schedule', two cards detailing the extra (A, B, C) files, one card marked 'Marking Register' and two cards with the file lists pasted on to them, all inside a Federal Capital Commission folder.

A6978
ROYAL VISIT 1927 – ACTIONS OUTSTANDING REGISTER
Canberra
Series: A6979
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1927 Federal Capital Commission – Royal Visit Section (CA 226)
ROYAL VISIT 1927 – ACTIONS OUTSTANDING REGISTER

This is a handwritten register of 20 large format sheets attached to a Federal Capital Commission file cover. It is ruled into columns from left to right: Name or No of file; matters outstanding; date referred; to whom referred; remarks. It appears to have served as a check list to ensure completion of outstanding tasks prior to the arrival of the Royal visitors.

A6979
FEDERAL CAPITAL COMMISSION RECORDS RELATING TO THE ROYAL VISIT
Canberra
Series: CP325/6
Quantity: 0.30 metres
Recorded by: 1927 Federal Capital Commission – Royal Visit Section (CA 226)
FEDERAL CAPITAL COMMISSION RECORDS RELATING TO THE ROYAL VISIT

Contains papers of various committees charged by the Federal Capital Commission to oversee different aspects of the royal visit to Canberra. Committees whose records are held include: Tree and Tree Planting Committee, Housing and Provisioning Committee, Public Entertainment Committee, Stands and Decorations Committee, Cinematography Committee, School Children Committee, State Luncheon and Public Reception Committee, Medical and Sanitary Committee, Official Cars Committee.

CP325/6
CARDS, PROGRAMMES, INVITATIONS AND PAMPHLETS RELATING TO OFFICIAL FUNCTIONS IN CANBERRA IN HONOUR OF THE ROYAL VISIT 1927
Canberra
Series: M88
Quantity: 0.09 metres
Recorded by: 1927 Charles Lydiard Aubrey Abbott (CP 30)
CARDS, PROGRAMMES, INVITATIONS AND PAMPHLETS RELATING TO OFFICIAL FUNCTIONS IN CANBERRA IN HONOUR OF THE ROYAL VISIT 1927 M88
PHOTOGRAPH OF CARS (HEADED BY A CROSSLEY) FUELLING WITH SHELL AT SKIPPER BAILEY LTD, SERVICE STATION, ST GEORGE'S TERRACE, PERTH DURING THE VISIT OF THE DUKE AND DUCHESS OF YORK TO WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 18 MAY 1927
Perth
Series: M411
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1927 Len Searles (CP 127)
M411

This photograph was taken during the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York to Western Australia in 1927. The photograph has the following legend on the border:

Visit of the Duke & Duchess of York to Western Australia, May 18th, 1927 and Fuelling with Shell at Skipper Bailey Ltd, Service Station, St George's Terrace, Perth and Illustrations Ltd Photo.

The first car in the queue is a Crossley car. Twelve of these cars were imported for use during the Royal Visit especially fitted out. There were six
7-seater tourers, four limousines and two landaus all maroon and decorated with the royal seal on the rear doors. They also had metal seals on the bonnet front.

All the cars were lent to the Australian Government by the Crossley manufacturers in England and, when the tour was completed they were returned to the company's representatives and sold from the shop floor.

Mr Len Searles, who took the photograph, worked for the Skipper Bailey Ltd, Service Station, St George's Terrace, Perth.

NEWSPAPER CUTTINGS, PHOTOGRAPHS, LETTERS AND PRINTED MATERIAL RELATING TO THE WORK OF P L SHEAFFE IN CANBERRA, 1902–1963
Canberra
Series: M4071
Quantity: 0.54 metres
Recorded by: 1902–1963 Percy Lampriere Sheaffe (CP 53)
M4071

Many of the items, such as photographs and invitations, are related to projects in Canberra such as the original survey of the city and area (1910), the hammering of the first pegs (1913), the laying of the foundations for the Commencement Column (1913), the laying of the foundation stone for the Capitol (1920) and the building and opening of Parliament House (1927). Some of the photographs in particular show what the area was like before major construction work was undertaken and indicate what life in the early years of Canberra was like.

Many of the newspaper articles and pamphlets show the changing attitudes to Canberra, its development and growth and the changing face of Australian society as a whole.

Amongst other royal paraphernalia, this series also contains an invitation to the opening ceremony of Parliament House.

Cabinet records relating to the royal visit of 1927

Cabinet considered a number of matters in connection with the 1927 royal visit and the opening of Parliament. The following records are available on microfilm in all state and territory offices of the National Archives:

Records available on microfilm
Series: A6006
Visit of their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York A6006, 1926/07/26
Royal Visit Expenditure, 1926 A6006, 1926/11/05
Laying of War Memorial Foundation Stone by the Duke of York, 1926 A6006, 1926/12/31
Representatives of Dominions to be invited to opening of Parliament House, Canberra, 1926 A6006, 1926/12/31
Visit of Duke and Duchess of York A6006, 1927/02/16
Public Holiday Arrangements in connection with Royal Visit A6006, 1927/03/07
Opening Ceremony at Canberra A6006, 1927/06/01
Royal Visit Finance Authority – Illumination and Decoration of Commonwealth Buildings, 1927 A6006, 1927/12/31
Cost of Royal Visit to Canberra, 1927 A6006, 1927/12/31
Royal Visit to Canberra – Holidays, 1927 A6006, 1927/12/31
Royal Visit – Temporary Telephone Facilities A6006, 1927/12/31

The Mildenhall collection of images of early Canberra

Image 19: Part of the crowd outside Parliament House for the opening ceremony.

Image 19: Part of the crowd outside Parliament House for the opening ceremony.
NAA: A3560, 3096
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Image 20: Arriving at the royal review with the Chief Commissioner of the Federal Capital Commission.

Image 20: Arriving at the royal review with the Chief Commissioner of the Federal Capital Commission.
NAA: A3560, 3014
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Image 21: Citizens of Canberra passing the steps of Parliament House during the civic reception, 1927.

Image 21: Citizens of Canberra passing the steps of Parliament House during the civic reception, 1927.
NAA: A3560, 3059
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Mildenhall collection of glass plate negatives
Canberra
Series: A3560
Quantity: 28.80 metres
Recorded by: 1921–1924 Department of Works and Railways (Central Office), Accounts Branch, Federal Capital Territory (CA 14); 1925–1930 Federal Capital Commission ( CA 226); 1921–1935 William James Mildenhall (CP 491)

Many images of the opening ceremony and the new Parliament House itself are included in series A3560, the Mildenhall collection of glass plate negatives of early Canberra. James Mildenhall was the official photographer employed by the Federal Capital Commission to record the growth and development of Canberra. Photographs relating specifically to the opening ceremony and royal visit to Canberra include:

Photographs relating to the opening ceremony and royal visit to Canberra
Series: A3560
Bands passing the saluting base in Royal Review A3560, 2991
Royal Visit, May 1927 – King George Terrace and Parliament House looking East showing flagpoles and young trees A3560, 2992
Troops, spectators and army band outside Parliament House and official guests A3560, 2993
Troops, spectators and army band outside Parliament House and official guests A3560, 2994
Six aeroplanes in flight during Royal Review A3560, 2995
Troops assembling outside Parliament House for opening ceremony A3560, 2996
The dais at the Royal Review A3560, 2997
Returned servicemen passing the saluting base at the Royal Review A3560, 2998
Canberra citizens passing the steps of Parliament House at the Civic Reception A3560, 2999
Canberra citizens passing the steps of Parliament House at the Civic Reception A3560, 3000
Part of the crowd at Duntroon for the royal parade A3560, 3001
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Military parade A3560, 3002
Royal Visit, May 1927 – The Royal party seated in the dais A3560, 3003
Royal Visit, May 1927 – The Duchess of York receiving a bouquet from a young girl A3560, 3004
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Casket containing the gold key to Parliament House A3560, 3006
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Crowd scene A3560, 3007
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Unidentified group of Army officers and civilians, 1927 A3560, 3008
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Entrance to Parliament House from the roof showing spectator's stands A3560, 3009
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Aeroplanes flying over the dais A3560, 3010
Royal Visit, May 1927 – A party of ladies and nurses being welcomed by an Army officer A3560, 3011
Royal Visit, May 1927 – View of the crowds at the front of Parliament House from the roof A3560, 3012
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Military display A3560, 3013
Royal Visit, May 1927 – The Duke of York with Prime Minister Bruce arriving at the royal review A3560, 3014
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Military display at Duntroon A3560, 3015
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Part of the Military Parade A3560, 3016
Photographs relating to the opening ceremony and royal visit to Canberra
Series: A3560
Duntroon RMC cadets being received by the Duke of York A3560, 3017
Troops and spectators at the Royal Review A3560, 3018
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Military display A3560, 3019
Duntroon RMC cadets saluting the Duke of York A3560, 3020
Arrival of Duke and Duchess of York at Parliament House A3560, 3021
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Military display A3560, 3022
Canberra citizens passing the steps of Parliament House at the Civic Reception A3560, 3024
Official party arriving at the Royal Review A3560, 3025
Saluting base at the Royal Review with Hotel Kurrajong in the background A3560, 3026
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Official vehicles arriving outside Parliament House A3560, 3027
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Official vehicles arriving outside Parliament House A3560, 3028
Royal Visit, May 1927 – View from front of Parliament House looking east at troops, band, spectator stands and tents A3560, 3029
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Unidentified army officers outside Parliament House A3560, 3030
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Hon Littleton Groom standing at the Speaker's Chair A3560, 3031
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Official vehicles arriving outside Parliament House A3560, 3032
The dais at the Royal Review showing Duchess of York and Hon SM Bruce A3560, 3033
Arrival of Duke and Duchess of York at Parliament House A3560, 3034
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Unidentified crowd A3560, 3035
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Casket and Gold Key of Parliament House A3560, 3036
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Hotel Canberra, Commonwealth Avenue and Albert Hall from West Block A3560, 3037
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Group of clergy and choir at the Hotel Canberra A3560, 3039
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Arrival of Duke and Duchess of York at Parliament House A3560, 3040
Royal Visit, May 1927 – General view of troops at Royal Review with aeroplanes overhead A3560, 3041
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Arrival of Duke and Duchess of York at Parliament House A3560, 3042
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Canberra citizens passing the steps on Parliament House at the Civic Reception A3560, 3043
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Duntroon Royal Military College cadets cheering the Duke of York at Duntroon, 1927 A3560, 3044
Royal Visit, May 1927 – The Dais and part of the crowd at the Royal Review A3560, 3045
Royal Visit, May 1927 – General view of the Parade at Duntroon A3560, 3047
Royal Visit, May 1927 – General view of the Parade at Duntroon A3560, 3048
Royal Visit, May 1927 – General view of Royal Review with aircraft in flight [Published in Lionel Wigmore, The Long View] A3560, 3049
Photographs relating to the opening ceremony and royal visit to Canberra
Series: A3560
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Ceremony inside Parliamentary Chamber [Copy photograph] A3560, 3050
Royal Visit, May 1927 – The Official Party [Copy photograph] A3560, 3051
Royal Visit, May 1927 – The Duchess of York receiving a bouquet [Copy photograph] A3560, 3052
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Saluting base for the Royal Review A3560, 3053
Royal Visit, May 1927 – The Duke and Duchess of York with the staff of Duntroon Royal Military College A3560, 3054
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Decorations on J B Young's Store at Kingston A3560, 3055
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Parkes Place and Parliament House from spectator's stands A3560, 3056
The Duke of York inside the Senate Chamber A3560, 3057
Royal Visit, May 1927 – The Duke and Duchess of York arriving at Parliament House, Canberra A3560, 3058
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Canberra citizens passing the steps on Parliament House at the Civic Reception A3560, 3059
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Duntroon Royal Military College Co-Delson parade A3560, 3060
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Ceremony inside Parliamentary Chamber A3560, 3061
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Unidentified group of Army officers and civilians, 1927 A3560, 3062
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Arrival of Duke and Duchess of York at Parliament House A3560, 3063
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Troops, spectators and Army Band outside Parliament House and official guests clustering the house A3560, 3064
Royal Visit, May 1927 – View from the steps of Parliament House down the entrance walk showing troops A3560, 3065
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Steps of Parliament House from the east A3560, 3066
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Front of Parliament House showing boy scouts, ex-servicemen and Light Horsemen A3560, 3067
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Troops, spectators and Army Band outside Parliament House and official guests clustering the house A3560, 3071
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Procession of clergy at Cathedral ceremony A3560, 3073
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Part of crowd at Anglican Cathedral ceremony A3560, 3074
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Crowd at Railway Station A3560, 3075
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Part of crowd at Anglican Cathedral ceremony, 1927 A3560, 3076
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Part of crowd at Anglican Cathedral ceremony, 1927 A3560, 3077
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Cadets cheering during Royal Review at Royal Military College, Duntroon, 1927 A3560, 3081
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Scene outside Railway Station A3560, 3082
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Unidentified group of Army officers and civilians, 1927 A3560, 3083
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Unidentified crowd, 1927 A3560, 3084
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Rt Hon S M Bruce speaking to the Duke and Duchess of York on the steps of Parliament House A3560, 3085
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Band and police officers on parade outside tents with motor cycles A3560, 3086
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Three unidentified police officers, two in uniform and one in plain clothes, outside Parliament House, 1927 A3560, 3087
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Unidentified mounted military officer with civilian in bowler hat and frock coat [see also 3083], 1927 A3560, 3088
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Duke and Duchess of York with Rt Hon S M Bruce at Canberra Railway Station A3560, 3089
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Copy photograph of scene outside Parliament House A3560, 3090
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Hon Littleton Groom presiding as Speaker with the Clerk of the House in front A3560, 3091
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Rt Hon S M Bruce with Sir John Butters and Lady Butters A3560, 3092
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Part of the crowd at Canberra Railway Station awaiting the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of York A3560, 3093
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Troops, spectators and Army Band outside Parliament House and official guests clustering the house A3560, 3095
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Troops, spectators and Army Band outside Parliament House and official guests clustering the house A3560, 3096
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Troops on parade at the Royal Review, 1927 A3560, 3097
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Sir John Butters and a military officer on the steps of Parliament House, 1927 A3560, 3099
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Sir John Butters and another man, 1927 A3560, 3100
Royal Visit, May 1927 – RAAF aeroplane taking off A3560, 3102
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Mounted police practising riding evolutions A3560, 3103
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Game of bowls in progress, 1927 A3560, 3104
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Mounted police practising riding evolutions in Parkes Place A3560, 3105
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Front of Parliament House probably during a rehearsal A3560, 3106
Royal Visit, May 1927 – Sir John Harrison with motor car, 1927 A3560, 3107
Duke and Duchess of York and Mr Bruce on Parliament House steps A3560, 7113

Official reports and the day's proceedings

An extensive report of the visit is provided in the Parliamentary Papers, Volume II of Session 1926–27–28. This report, prepared by the Federal Capital Committee, describes the persons assembled for the opening of Parliament as follows:

The… ceremony took place at the main entrance of Parliament House in the presence of Their Excellencies the Governor-General of the Commonwealth and the Governors of the States, the Prime Minister, representatives from the Parliaments of several of the Dominions, the Foreign Consuls-General, Members of Parliament, and over 500 guests specially invited by the Government. (Guests included representatives of the British, New Zealand, Canadian, South African and Indian Governments, State Governors, Judges of the High Court, State Premiers, widows of former Prime Ministers, members of both Houses of Federal Parliament, representatives of the church and mayors of the capital cities. Other notable guests included Dame Nellie Melba who sang God Save the Queen and Walter Burley Griffin and his wife, Marion Mahoney. Fifty four members of the Press were also in attendance.)5 Guards of Honour representing the Navy, Army and Air Services, were provided for Their Royal Highnesses and the ceremony was witnessed by many thousands of the general public.6

However, the crowds who came to Canberra to view the ceremonies proved to be no where near as large as expected. Five thousand visitors were invited to sit in the stands near Parliament House and 30 000 parking spaces were allotted for the anticipated volume of public visitors. Provision for camping grounds, water, sanitary and catering arrangements were also made. But as the memorandum overleaf shows, if the sales of the catering organisations are any indication, the crowd in attendance was dramatically less than anticipated.

The event was filmed by the Department of Markets and Migration. Mr EP Robinson, the Publicity Officer of this department, assumed responsibility for the filming. He also supervised the activities of the numerous press photographers.

In addition,

Complete arrangements were made by the Postmaster-General's Department, in association with Australasian Film Ltd, for broadcasting and amplification of public addresses, the former being relayed throughout Australia, and the latter enabling perfect audibility of the several speeches by the whole of the large assembly which congregated round Parliament House, both on the stands and adjacent eminences.7

Other arrangements in celebration of the event included a chess game between members of the Australian Parliament versus members of the British Parliament, conducted by wireless. (See file A6680, DY16/44 listed below.)

According to a report by the Director-General of the royal visit, Cyril Brudenell White, 'the Royal Visitors had expressed the wish that when travelling through the States they might have opportunities of seeing and of being seen by, the greatest number of the general public. They especially desired to meet Returned Soldiers, New Settlers and School Children.'8

Therefore, in particular, much planning went into the arrangements for school children to view the event. The Duke and Duchess also 'expressed the wish that every school in Australia may be given an extra weeks holiday at Easter to commemorate the royal visit.'46 From the areas around Canberra, 738 children came to watch the festivities. Given that the School Children's Committee established by the Federal Capital Commission had specified that only children over nine years of age were able to attend, this was quite a large proportion of the school-age population.9

The School Children's Committee also decided in a meeting on 28 February

that flags be purchased for distribution to the school children, if possible from royal visit funds. Flags would be available at 1/6d a dozen. This recommendation was based upon an apprehension that otherwise not all of the children would buy flags and an indifferent spectacular effect might ensue.10

In the afternoon of the 9th May, the Duke reviewed over 2000 troops. As he did so, representatives of various air squadrons manoeuvred overhead. The plane of Flying Officer Francis Charles Ewen crashed during the display, near the present site of the National Library. Flying Officer Ewen died later that evening. A photograph of the wreck of his SE5 fighter is included in the Mildenhall collection of photographs.

Plane wreck at Canberra, 1927
Series: A3560
Plane wreck at Canberra, 1927 A3560, 440

Examples of records relating to the Royal Visit of 1927

Series: A1
Recorded by: Department of External Affairs (CA 7) (CA 7)
Opening of Parliament at Canberra, 1927 A1, 1927/199
Catering arrangements during the opening of Parliament House, 1926–1927 A1, 1927/4412

This file describes the tenders received from companies hoping to secure the public catering rights at the opening ceremony. The file ultimately goes on to illustrate the lack of public attendance at the event and the effects of this financially on the government, as a Federal Capital Commission memorandum dated 27 May 1927 illustrates:

It will be remembered that the Government's first instructions in regard to the general public for the Royal Visit were that arrangements were to be made for 5 000 guests in the stands outside Parliament House and for approximately 100 000 of the general public…

The result of the public advertisements for caterers in the vicinity of Parliament House was very disappointing ... not a single satisfactory tender was received; one was from a Mr E P May of Nature's Own Production Company who talked about light lunches for 20 000 people with special emphasis on things known as Crispets and Crackerjack Popcorn and so forth… it was quite clear he had no conception of what was required for providing 20 000 lunches…

It was left to negotiate with Messrs Sargeants Ltd… they undertook after a lot of negotiation to cater provided we guaranteed them to the extent of 5 000 lunches. Unfortunately 5 000 lunches were not sold owing to the smallness of the crowd and the fact that the bulk of the crowd apparently brought their own meal, with the result that we shall have to stand up to the guarantee, the amount of which is the subject of negotiation at the moment. It may be mentioned here that several tons of food such as meat pies etc had to be buried by the Company as useless for return to Sydney or local disposal…

Series: A281
Recorded by: 1927 Department of Works and Railways (CA 14)
Duke of York's visit, 1926–1927 A281, 27/787
Western Australia – Duke of York's Visit, 1926–1927 A281, DGW27/1622
South Australia – Duke of York's Visit, 1926–1927 A281, DGW27/1689
Series: A429
Recorded by: 1925–1927 Federal Capital Commission (CA 226)
Canberra Community News, Volume 2 No 8–9 May 1927 A429, 20
Canberra Community News, Volume 9 No 8–11 June 1927 A429, 21
Series: A458
Recorded by: 1923–1934 Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Aviation; Appointment of the Duke of York as Honorary Group Captain, Royal Australian Air Force, 1927 A458, U314/7
Expenditure in connection with Royal Visit. Statement by Dr Watson, 1927 A458, 748/3/41
Visits. Duke of York. Itinerary – General, 1925–1927 A458, D748/3
Visits. Duke of York. 1927. Financial, 1926–1928 A458, E748/3
Federal Territories Opening of Federal Parliament, Canberra. Invitations to Ceremony, Official, 1926–1927 A458, J120/7
Visits – Duke of York. Loan of pictures from Melbourne National Gallery, 1926–1930 A458, K748/3
Visits – Duke of York. Press Representation, 1926–1927 A458, M748/3
Duke of York. Cables Miscellaneous, 1927 A458, R748/3
Royal Visit. Broadcasting Arrangements, 1927 A458, AA748/3/27
Visits – Duke of York. Phono films, 1927–1928 A458, AL748/3
Visits – Duke of York. Letters of Appreciation, 1927 A458, AM748/3
Series: A463
Recorded by: 1956– Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Opening of Parliament by HRH The Duke of York – 9 May 1927 A463, 1957/1056
Series: A705
Recorded by: 1922–1939 Air Services Branch (CA 219)
Royal Visit 1927 – Instructions and details, 1927 A705, 34/2/67
Series: A1200
Recorded by: 1950–1971 Australian News and Information Bureau, Canberra (CA 219)
Opening of Federal Parliament in Canberra by HRH Duke of York, May 1927

This item is a photograph taken from inside the House of Representatives at the opening of the first Parliament in Canberra.

A1200, L13361
Series: A1606
Recorded by: 1926–1939 Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Visit of Duke of York, 1926–1930 A1606, B40/1
Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York. Invitation to perform ceremony of the official opening of Canberra in May 1927 A1606, B40/1 Attachment

A telegram from the Governor-General to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs dated 16 July 1926, read as follows:

On behalf of Government and people of Australia most loyally and respectfully request Your Majesty to permit Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York to visit Australia on the occasion of the official opening of Canberra in May 1927, and to perform the opening ceremony.

In making this request we recall with pleasure and pride Your Majesty's own visit in 1901 when you graciously consented to open the first Federal Parliament.

We would regard it as singularly appropriate if your son were permitted to represent you at the establishment of the Federal Capital which marks another important phase in the development of this great British Commonwealth and is regarded by our people as an event of deep national significance and importance. We feel that the presence of His Royal Highness on such an occasion would evoke the strongest possible expressions of loyalty and enthusiasm and further strengthen the bonds which unite us to the Mother Country and to your Royal House.

The king consented to the visit on 16 July. However the practical arrangements associated with the tour proved bothersome. The Duke and Duchess wished to visit both Australia and New Zealand but problems arose over the scheduling of the respective visits. A suggestion that the Duke and Duchess visit New Zealand prior to coming to Australia prompted the following telegram from the Governor-General to RG Casey in London (dated 4 August):

If HRH coming of own volition visit Dominions in Pacific, Australia, as Senior Dominion would resent bitterly if New Zealand visited before Australia. With additional factor introduced that HRH coming at invitation of Australia to perform historic ceremony, if New Zealand visited first that feeling even more intense. Trend public sentiment not matter for argument but a fact...Considerable feeling exists between New South Wales and New Zealand and this factor must be taken into account.

The Australian Government, however, eventually conceded that it was more practical for the tour of New Zealand to be conducted prior to the Duke and Duchess' arrival in Australia. It was finally decided that the royal couple should visit Wellington, New Zealand and also Perth, Adelaide, Hobart Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Their tour would culminate in Canberra after which they would return to England via the Panama Canal.

Another factor influencing the organisation of the tour was the Duchess of York who had only recently given birth to Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen on 21 April 1926. In a telegram dated 29 July 1926, the Governor-General was informed, 'The main consideration dominating the situation is the King's anxiety that the Duchess' health should not be tried too severely either during the visit itself or by the return journey'.

Series: A6270
Recorded by: 1925–1930 Federal Capital Commission (CA 226)
Parliament House. Lighting arrangements for filming of opening ceremony, 1926–1927 A6270, E2/27/724
Series: A6680
Recorded by: 1926–1928 Director of Royal Tour (CA 1052)
Main committee file and copies of decisions (with index), 1926–1927

A Cabinet committee was appointed on 7 May 1926 to prepare for both the opening of Parliament House and the royal visit. Two conferences were held on 21 June and 23 July 1926 to determine the main framework for the opening ceremony and to arrange aspects of the royal visit. This file contains copies of all the decisions made by this committee.

A6680, DY3
Entertainment for crew of His Majesty's ship Renown, 1926–1927

This item lists many of the personnel serving on the Renown during its tour of Australia.

A6680, DY6/1
Representation of states at opening of Parliament, 1926–1927

This file contains a request by the Commonwealth Director to the State Director, Royal Visit 1927 to allow him to peruse any records which show the steps taken to ensure adequate representation of the states at the opening of Federal Parliament in 1901.

A6680, DY16/20
Chess match by wireless, 1926–1927

Match by wireless held 9 May 1927 between members of the House of Commons, London, and members of the Federal Parliament, Canberra as a part of the opening celebrations of the new Parliament House. Correspondence chiefly relates to the recruiting of players, broadcasting arrangements and organising invitations to opening the ceremony.

A6680, DY16/44
Export Central Boards, Department of Markets and Migration – Tickets to Canberra ceremony for selected members, 1927

The Department of Markets and Migration was responsible for filming the opening ceremony at Parliament House.

A6680, DY16/104
General programme file, 1926–1927 A6680, DY18
New South Wales general programme file, 1926–1927 A6680, DY19
Victorian programme file, 1926–1927 A6680, DY20
Queensland general programme file, 1926–1927 A6680, DY21
South Australian general programme file, 1926–1927 A6680, DY22
Western Australia programme file – General memo to State Director etc, 1926–1927 A6680, DY23
Western Australia working programme file, 1927 A6680, DY23/8
Tasmanian general programme, 1926–1927 A6680, DY24
Canberra programme file and general arrangements at Canberra, 1926 A6680, DY25A
Canberra programme file and general arrangements at Canberra, 1926–1927 A6680, DY25B
Canberra programme file and general arrangements at Canberra, 1926–1927

This file includes plans of the interior of Parliament House which were used for planning purposes.

A6680, DY25C
Overseas press representatives, 1926–1927

Contains administrative detail concerning overseas press representatives. Matters dealt with include travel, accommodation and expenses and the appointment of Mr C E Sayers as 'press representative' to assist visiting and Australian pressmen and to coordinate press matters in relation to the royal visit.

A6680, DY27F
Arrangements with press, Canberra, 1926–1927 A6680, DY27/11A–11C
Royal trains – Press representatives to join trains, 1927 A6680, DY27/15
Phonographic records of speeches at Canberra, 1926–1927 A6680, DY28/2
National anthem, Australianised versions – Lamb, Miss, 1927

Miss E Beaufils Lamb suggested the following verse be added to the national anthem, God Save the King, in honour of the royal visit:

Long Live the Royal pair —
Duke and the Duchess fair,
Come to entwine
White Rose and Wattle Flower,
Emblems of Empire's power,
Crowning great Canb'rra's hour.
A6680, DY28/26
Gifts – From school children to infant Princess [note: includes 'policy' papers on this matter taken from file DY38/18], 1926–1927

Princess Elizabeth was only eight months old when her parents left on their 1927 tour.

A6680, DY38/19
Maloney, Doctor W, Member of Parliament – Various questions asked in the House by, 1928

Parliamentary questions were raised concerning officials who received royal favours in connection with the opening of Parliament by the Duke of York. The file includes an unofficial list of those officials.

A6680, DY38/38
Jules, Mr C, hairdresser – Fares Sydney to Melbourne return to attend Royal couple, 1927 A6680, DY38/40
Series: A6976
Recorded by: 1926–1927 Federal Capital Commission – Royal Visit Section (CA 226)
Accommodation – State Governors & Wives. Dame Nellie Melba, 1927 A6976, 3A
Programme – Official opening Parliament House, Part 1, 1926 A6976, 39 part 1
Programme – Official opening Parliament House, Part 2, 1927 A6976, 39 part 2
Series: B300
Recorded by: 1917–1975 Commonwealth Railways Commissioner (CA 265)
Duke of York's Visit, Accounts in Connection With, 1927 B300, 6945/1
Series: M4071
Recorded by: 1902–1963 Percy Lampriere Sheaffe (CA 53)
Sheaffe Papers. Invitation to Miss Isabel Sheaffe to the establishment of the seat of government at Canberra, 9th May 1927. Invitation has 'Visit of their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York' on the front M4071, 74
Sheaffe Papers. Synopsis of Programme of Official Opening of Parliament House, Canberra by HRH the Duke of York, KG. 9th May 1927 M4071, 75
Series: CP211/2
Recorded by: 1926–1930 Development and Migration Commission (CA 243)
Visitors – Duke of York – Accounts, 1927 CP211/2, 77/7
Series: CP325/6
Recorded by: 1927 Federal Capital Commission (CA 226)
Federal Capital Commission – Royal Visit – Newspaper Criticism

The organisers of the visit were criticised in the Press for making the opening of Parliament too inaccessible for members of the general public.

CP325/6, Bundle 1
Series: CP698/9
Recorded by: 1925–1929 Federal Capital Commission (CA 226)
Royal Visit – General – Correspondence of the Canberra Social Services Association, 1927–1928 CP698/9, 53/1
Canberra Social Services Association – correspondence regarding the royal visit by the Duke and Duchess of York to open Parliament House, 1926–1927 CP698/9, 53/2
Royal Visit – Public Entertainment Committee, 1927 CP698/9, 53/3
Series: MP341/1
Recorded by: 1901–1939 Postmaster-General's Department, Central Administration (CA 9)
Radio Broadcasting Programmes – Tenders Broadcast of official opening of Parliament Canberra by HRH the Duke of York, 1927–1929 MP341/1, 1927/1053
Series: SP339/1
Recorded by: 1926–1938 Captain Superintendent, Sydney, and Captain-in-Charge, New South Wales (CA4338)
Brass plates for trees planted by HRH the Duke of York – Committees, 1926–1927 SP339/1, 205/1/54
Royal Visit 1927 – His Royal Highness the Duke of York – Committees, 1926–1927 SP339/1, 256/4/7
Royal Visit (1927) – Letter of appreciation from HRH the Duke of York, 1927 SP339/1, 256/4/144

Records about Cyril Brudenell Bingham White, Organiser of the royal visits of 1920 and 1927

General Sir Cyril Brudenell Bingham White had a long and distinguished military career both prior to and after his periods as Commonwealth Director of the royal visits of the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duke of York. Records relating to his military service are principally held by the Australian War Memorial and details of the items within his collection can be identified on the National Archives' item level database.

Brudenell White, who had been appointed as Chief of Staff of the Australian Imperial Force in August 1914, planned and supervised the evacuation at Gallipoli and later served on the Western Front. He received five foreign decorations for his services during World War I, was appointed as aide-de-camp to George V and was mentioned in despatches five times. Brudenell White retired from the Public Service in 1928, but due to the death of E K Squires, the Chief of the General Staff in early 1940, White was asked to return to the position. He therefore served again with the army until his death on 13 August 1940.11

Brudenell White was described by CEW Bean as the greatest man he ever knew. A small amount of Cyril Brudenell White's personal papers are held by the National Archives, as is his World War I personal dossier. Records relating to the air crash in Canberra in 1940 which caused the death of Brudenell White and several other prominent members of the government and the military, are also held by the Archives. Their deaths in the early stages of World War II and the resulting loss of experience and expertise, caused a crisis for the government and the war administration.

The following series was compiled by Brudenell White:

DIARIES OF SIR CYRIL BRUDENELL WHITE AS (1) CHIEF OF THE GENERAL STAFF AND (2) CHAIRMAN OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD, 1923–1927
Canberra

Volumes 4 and 5 cover 1926–1927, the period of the royal visit of the Duke and Duchess of York.


Series: A1241
Quantity: 018 metres
Recorded by: Major General (Cyril) Brudenell Bingham White CB, KCB, KCVO, CMG, DSO (CP 10)
The following items relate to Brudenell White's military career and his death in 1940:
Series: A5954
Recorded by: 1937–1971 Recorded by: Sir Frederick Geoffrey Shedden KCMG, OBE (CP 320)
Correspondence with Sir Brudenell White, 1940 A5954, 54/21
(Newspaper cutting) Two Men I Knew : William Bridges and Brudenell White : Founders of the AIF by CEW Bean – Press review by John Hetherington, 1961 A5954, 1248/33
Series: B2455/1
Recorded by: 1914–1920 Recorded by: Australian Imperial Force, Base Records Office (CA 2001)
World War I Personal Dossier Lieutenant General Cyril Brudenell Bingham White B2455/1, WHITE C B B
Series: A1378
Recorded by: 1927–1943 Investigation Branch, Central Office, Melbourne and Canberra (CA 747)
Aeroplane crash at Canberra on 13 August 1940

The plane exploded on impact. Those killed were: Geoffrey Austin Street, Minister for the Army and Minister for Repatriation; James Valentine Fairbairn, Minister for Air and Civil Aviation; Sir Henry Somer Gullett, Vice-president of the Executive Council; General Sir Cyril Brudenell Bingham White, Chief of the General Staff; Lieutenant Colonel Francis Thornthwaite, Staff Officer to General White; Richard Edwin Elford, Private Secretary to Mr Fairbairn; and RAAF crew, Flight Lieutenant Richard Edward Hitchcock, Pilot Officer Richard Frederick Weisner, Corporal John Frederick Palmer and Aircraftman Charles Joseph Crosdale, 1940–1941.

A1378, P8903
Series: A6079
Recorded by: 1936–1945 Crown Solicitor's Office (CA 554)
Inquest into the death of Hon G A Street, Hon J V Fairbairn Sir Henry Gullett, Sir Brudenell White, Colonel F Thornthwaite, R E Elford, R E Hitchcock, R F Weisner, J F Palmer, C J Crosdale, 1940 A6079, MO 625

Coronation of George VI

The coronation of the King on 12 May 1937 met with the usual pomp and ceremony. Australia sent a contingent of eighteen representatives and several of their wives to London to view the ceremony. The representatives included Prime Minister Lyons (who attended as an official guest of the King), Lord Casey and Frederick Shedden. John Curtin, as leader of the Opposition, was also invited as an official guest of the King but was unable to attend. The fact that no other Labor Party official was able to go in his place caused considerable consternation at the time.12

Also included amongst the Australian representatives were a contingent of boy scouts and members of the Coronation Choir. In addition, a contingent of 150 Australian troops including 75 veterans of World War I was also sent to London under the leadership of Sir Henry Chauvel. An emergency ration of two lumps of sugar was issued to all troops participating in the coronation to guard against fatigue. In addition the troops also received a cheese roll, a bar of chocolate, a rock cake and two apples. People back in Australia were awarded a public holiday on 12 May to celebrate the coronation.13

The coronation itself was a suitably splendid event:

Led by a brilliant procession, Their Majesties drove to the Abbey along streets lined by cheering multitudes. It is estimated that more than 1 000 000 watched the cavalcade.14

An Australian news article captures the air of British pride prompted by tradition and the monarchy:

Journalists of the world – Awed by noble ceremony

From the high, eerily lit north triforium, the world's Press surveyed the glittering theatre in which the climax of the world's greatest ceremonial drama was enacted beneath flickering golden candle flames and on a golden carpet. The thunderously crashing music heightened the emotional tension.

A Chinese said to me, 'The colours are like those on a brilliant lacquered screen. Everyone here is a spectacular actor or actress.'

A German exclaimed, 'The splendour of England.'

A Frenchman said, 'What would the world do without such stabilising brilliance?'

An American said, 'Every American mother adores them,' as the Princess royal and the little princesses walked to their places amid the swell of music.15

The King was sent many congratulatory telegrams in honour of his coronation. The following was reprinted in the Sydney Morning Herald under the banner, 'Hope of World Peace':

Herr Hitler sent the following telegram to the King: 'May your Majesty be granted a long and happy reign for the welfare of Britain, Ireland, and the overseas British dominions and India, as well as in the interest of the preservation of world peace'.16

The crowning of the new King also meant that Australian coinage had to be changed. The confusion created by the sudden change in monarch contributed to the fact that no Australian penny was minted in 1937.

Series: A461
Recorded by: 1934–1950 Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
King George VI – Coronation Policy, 1937 A461, A396/1/12
King George VI – Coronation. Parliamentary delegation, 1936–1952 A461, D396/1/12
King George VI – Coronation. Presentations to His Majesty The King, 1937 A461, P396/1/12
King George VI – Coronation – Use of royal emblems – Coat of Arms, flags, etc, 1936–1937 A461, Q396/1/12
Visit of contingent of ex-soldiers – Applications for inclusion, 1936–1937 A461, AB396/1/12
Series: A462
Recorded by: 1951–1955 Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Coronation of King George VI – Official coronation colours – Policy, 1937–1953 A462, 821/1/29
Series: A3522
Recorded by: 1935–1953 Governor General (CA 1)
Accession to the throne of HM King George VI, 1936–1937 A3522, File 2
Series: CP144/1
Recorded by: 1938 The Rt Hon Joseph Aloysius Lyons PC, CH (CP 254)
Letters between HM King George VI & Rt Hon J Lyons, re presentation of an oil painting of the coronation, 1938 CP144/1, Whole series
Series: M3610
Recorded by: 1918–1940 Sir Joseph Cook (CP 611)
Invitations, including invitation to the coronation of Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, 1936 M3610, 11
Series: A432
Recorded by: 1901–1970 Attorney-General's Department (CA 5)
Coinage and proclamation re changing of effigy of late King on Australian coins, 1935–1944 A432, 1936/94
Series: A2908
Recorded by: 1930–1952 Australian High Commission, United Kingdom (London) (CA 241)
Coins King George VI Coinage, 1936–1939 A2908, C39

The accession of King George to the throne coincided with the decision by the Australian government to redesign the national currency. Robert Johnson of London's Royal Mint wrote to Prime Minister Bruce on 6 January 1937 saying:

Perhaps you might also think it well to remind the Commonwealth authorities that the delay which is necessarily incurred in the preparation of the new King's head, seems to afford to Australia an opportunity to issue a completely new series of Australian coinage.

The new currency that the Government brought into circulation in 1938 included the distinctive kangaroo design on the penny and half penny.

Series: CP4/5
Recorded by: 1935–1941 The Rt Hon Richard Gardiner Casey Baron of Berwick, Victoria, PC, GCMG, CH, DSO, MC (CP 24)
Coin designs, 1937–1939 CP4/5, 21

Shortly after the Australian coronation contingent arrived in London, one of its members, Gunner Arthur Sullivan VC, died. According to Cabinet discussion of the incident, Gunner Sullivan 'died from injuries accidentally received in the street, he apparently having slipped when stepping from the footpath to the roadway.'17

The Cabinet decided not to send another Victoria Cross winner to London to take Gunner Sullivan's place in the procession. Reporting on the day of the coronation, the Sydney Morning Herald noted that:

when the Australian contingent was marching in the procession, a blank file was left in the memory of the late Gunner AP Sullivan VC…18
Series: A461
Recorded by: 1934–1950 Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Condolences – Sullivan, Gunner, 1937 A461, 700/1/300
Series: A6006
Recorded by: Cabinet: 1937
Death of Gunner Arthur Sullivan VC, 1937 A6006, 1937/04/20
Series: B2455
Recorded by: 1914–1920 ustralian Imperial Force, Base Records Office (CA 2001)
World War I Personnel Dossier: Sullivan, Arthur Percy 1914–1920

Service/Regimental Number: 56133; Place of birth: Prospect, South Australia; Place of enlistment: Port Pirie SA; Next of kin: Father, Arthur Monks Sullivan.

B2455, Sullivan A P

A display of the coronation robes of the King, Queen and two princesses toured Australia in early 1938. The exhibition cost a little over £1 000 (a portion of which was used to engage the services of Mr L B Thomas from the Department of Defence, 'an expert in packing and folding') to mount and was displayed in all state capitals and Canberra. It met with great success with 540 000 people coming to view the exhibition from across the country.

Series: A461
Recorded by: 1934–1950 Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Coronation – Exhibition of coronation robes in the Dominions, 1937–1938 A461, AS396/1/12 parts 1–2

Examples of general records associated with George VI and Queen Elizabeth

Series: A2909
Recorded by: 1918 – Australian High Commission, United Kingdom (London) – War Memorial Section, Australian Graves Services (CA 241)
Visitors' Book – Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux (contained in Red Book Case), 1938

The War Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, France was constructed by the Australian Government and the Imperial War Graves Commission to commemorate the 10 866 Australian soldiers who died during World War I on the Western Front.

After years of controversy surrounding its construction, the Memorial was opened by George VI and Queen Elizabeth on 22 July 1938. This visitors' book, although never used, was signed by the royal couple when they opened the Memorial.

A2909, AGS6/1/18/7 Attachment F
Sydney
Series: C102
Recorded by:
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth [later the Queen Mother] – Message on 85th Anniversary of YWCA (audio tape), 1940 C102, RO39
HM King George VI – Christmas Day message (audio tape), 1941 C102, RO47
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) – speech to the women of the Empire (audio tape), 1943 C102, RO48
Sydney
Series: M3610
Recorded by: 1918–1940 Sir Joseph Cook (CP611)
Invitations 1923 – Includes invitation to the wedding of the Duke of York to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon M3610, 6

The death of George VI

The following records discuss the death of George VI and document its effects on official protocol, foreign relations, Cabinet and the Australian currency:

Series: A462
Recorded by: 1951–1955 Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Royal family – General constitutional matters – Death of the sovereign, 1952–1953 A462, 821/1/4
Death of HM King George VI – Messages of sympathy to HM The Queen, 1952 A462, 821/1/6
Death of His Majesty King George VI – Memorial service Sunday 17 February 1952 – Parliament House, Canberra, 1952 A462, 821/1/8
Death of His Majesty King George VI, 1936–1952 A462, 821/1/10
Memorial services – HM King George VI – Commonwealth representation at State services, 1952 A462, 821/1/11
Series: A1838
Recorded by: 1948–1970 Department of External Affairs (CA 18)
Accreditation of Diplomatic Representatives after Death of His Majesty King George VI & Notification of Queen's Accession, 1952–1963 A1838, 1516/34/1
Protocol – Death of King George VI – Order & Forms for Royal Toast, 1952–1957 A1838, 1516/34/3
Protocol – Death of King George VI – Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 1952–1961 A1838, 1516/34/4
Series: A2027
Recorded by: 1951– RAAF Victorian Squadron Air Training Corps (CA 1343)
Death of King George VI and Proclamation of Queen Elizabeth, 1952 A2027, 911/4/P2
Series: A4940
Recorded by: 1958–1967 Cabinet Secretariat (CA 3)
Death of King George VI, 1952 A4940, C500
Series: A5954
Recorded by: 1937–1971 Sir Frederick Geoffrey Shedden KCMG, OBE (CP 320)
Death of the Monarch – King George VI – March 1952 A5954, 2075/3
Sydney
Series: C102
Osborne, Lt. Gen. Rev. – Talk on death King George VI (facing the week) (audio tape), 1952 C102, REL24
Fisher, Dr. G. F. – Talk on death King George VI (audio tape), 1952 C102, REL25
Dalton, Father Leo – 'Reflections on passing of the King' (plain Christianity), 1952 C102, REL26
Series: M2130
Recorded by: 1948–1974 The Hon Dame Annabelle Jane Mary Rankin DBE (CP 137)
Invitation from the Right Hon the Lord Mayor of Brisbane to attend a service in memory of King George the Sixth, 15 February 1952 M2130, 71
Series: M2576
Recorded by: 1949–1966 The Rt Hon Sir Robert Gordon Menzies PC, KT, CH, QC (CP 54)
Personal papers of Sir Robert Menzies – Mostly British matters

A letter from the Australian High Commissioner in London, Sir Thomas White, to Menzies dated 13 February 1952, discusses the death of the King. It also mentions the cancellation of the tour of Australia by Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, due to the death of the King and guesses at prospective dates for a new tour.

In this letter Sir Thomas also discusses the impact and ramifications of the death of the King:

For the Lying-in-State… some 70 000 people a day are filing through and even although there has been snow some have stayed at the doors all night to pass by in the early hours… There is no doubt whatever though that above it all is a spirit of elation that in the new Queen they have one who has all the attributes and training and the personality to carry the heavy responsibilities that will face the country. So that with the present political leadership and the second Elizabethan age starting, Britain can face a new and encouraging future.
M2576, 111
Series: M3795
Recorded by: 1918–1940 Sir Joseph Cook (CP 611)
The Sphere – Memorial edition to King George VI, 1952 M3795, 7

Notes

Chapter notes | All notes

1 NAA: A3522, File 1

2 Denis Judd, King George VI, quoted in Langford, op cit, p.472

3 NAA: SP1008/1, 447/11/4 Part 12

4 Letter covering report dated 30 July 1927. NAA: A6680, DY73/1

5 Details of guest list. NAA: CP325/6, Bundle 1, Housing and Provisioning Committee file

6 Parliamentary Papers, Volume II, Session 1926–27–28, p.1198

7 Parliamentary Papers, p.1259

8 NAA: A6680, DY73/1, page 5 of report

9 Home and Territories telegram, 12/4/27. NAA: CP325/6 Bundle 1, School Children's Committee

10 NAA: CP325/6, Bundle 1, School Children's Committee

11 NAA: CP325/6, Bundle 1, School Children's Committee

12 John Ritchie (ed) Australian Dictionary of Biography Vol 12: 1891–1939, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne 1990, p.460–3

13 NAA: A461, D396/1/12

14 NAA: A461, D396/1/12

15 The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 May 1937, p.11

16 The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 May 1937, p.11

17 The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 May 1937, p.12

18 NAA: A6006, 1937/04/20

19 The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 May 1937, p.11


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