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


9 Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Image 36: The Duke arriving at Melbourne Town Hall during his 1956 visit.

Image 36: The Duke arriving at Melbourne Town Hall during his 1956 visit.
NAA: A1771, E52/11
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Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh was born in Greece on 10 June 1921. He is the only son of Prince Andrew and Princess Alexandra of Greece.

The Duke of Edinburgh has made several tours to Australia. He was the royal representative who opened the Melbourne Olympics in November 1956, and he visited again in 1962 to open the Empire (Commonwealth) Games in Perth. He returned to Australia in 1965 to open the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra and visited again in 1968 to open the third Duke of Edinburgh Study Conference. A proposed tour in 1960 was cancelled.

The Duke also visited Australia very briefly in 1967 to help prepare for the Study Conference scheduled for the following year. However, the Duke's first association with Australia predated even his 1947 wedding. The Duke of Edinburgh served in the British Navy during World War II and during his period of active service, made two visits to Australia. The first was in 1940 as a midshipman aboard the battleship Ramilles and the second was in 1945 aboard the Royal Navy destroyer Whelp.1 No records concerning these wartime visits are held by the National Archives.

1956 visit of the Duke of Edinburgh

Image 37: The Duke is greeted by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, 1956.

Image 37: The Duke is greeted by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, 1956.
NAA: A1771, E9/2A
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Image 38: From the ASIO security vetting file for the Duke’s 1956 visit.

Image 38: From the ASIO security vetting file for the Duke’s 1956 visit.
NAA: A6122, 1863
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The Melbourne Olympics began on 22 November 1956. It was the Duke of Edinburgh's responsibility to declare the Games open and the royal presence was intended to lend pageantry to an already impressive event.

In reporting the Opening Ceremony the headlines read:

Spectacular Games Opening – 103 000 cheer Duke at Melbourne Olympics Ceremony… Australians and visitors agreed that no city had staged the Games more magnificently…

There was some comment, however, as:

Not all the teams had been well coached in the salute to the Sovereign's representative. But where it was neglected it seemed to be due not to disrespect, but rather to inadvertence, preoccupation with precise marching or the distance to the royal box. Some teams from the great democratic fraternity marched past looking straight ahead as intensely as some from the communist countries.2
Series: A1771
Quantity: 0.09 metres
Recorded by: CA 219 (1956 Australian News and Information Bureau, Canberra)
PHOTOGRAPHIC NEGATIVES, TWO NUMBER SERIES WITH 'E' (EDINBURGH) PREFIX

Pictures include flag waving crowd lined streets with the Duke standing in the back of a jeep driving along, watching a helicopter in action, greeting people and visiting sites.

A1771
Canberra
Series: A7134
Quantity: 0.09 metres
Recorded by: 1956–1961 Australian News and Information Bureau, Canberra (CA 219)
REGISTER FOR 'OLYMPIC GAMES' SERIES ('O', 'OG', 'OGA', 'OGC', 'OGO' PREFIXES); VISIT OF DUKE OF EDINBURGH SERIES ('E' PREFIX); VISIT OF QUEEN MOTHER SERIES ('QMV' PREFIX); VISIT OF GENERAL NASUTION SERIES, ('CN') PREFIX; ANTARCTIC TREATY – OPENING DAY SERIES ('AT' PREFIX)

This series consists of a book titled 'Olympic Games – Melbourne 1956'. On the other cover is written 'E – Duke 1956', 'QM – Queen Mother 1958', 'AT – Antarctic Treaty Meeting July 1961'.

This series is the main control record for two Australian News and Information Bureau photographic series documenting the Duke's 1956 visit and the Olympic Games, A1771 and A7135.

A7134
Canberra

The series consists of photographs and negatives representing the Olympic Games in Melbourne, 1956.

Series: A7135
Quantity: 0.90 metres
Recorded by: 1956 Australian News and Information Bureau, Canberra (CA 219)
PHOTOGRAPHIC NEGATIVES AND PRINTS, SINGLE AND TWO NUMBER SERIES WITH 'O' (OLYMPIC), 'OG' (OLYMPIC GAMES), 'OGA' (OLYMPIC GAMES ACCOMMODATION), 'OGC' (OLYMPIC GAMES CURRENT) AND 'OGO' (OLYMPIC GAMES OPENING) PREFIXES, 1956

The subjects include the torch relay and opening ceremony of the games; various events of the games, for example running, hurdling, boxing, hockey, yachting; sights around Melbourne and the Olympic Village; prominent people, such as the Duke of Edinburgh and Bob Hope; medal winning; accommodation map; the Olympic Stadium; crowds; the Olympic Pool and swimmers; athletes, for example Betty Cuthbert, Ron Clark, John Landy; teams of different countries; the Olympic Marathon; gymnastics; soccer; and press conferences.

The series is an attempt to give the broadest possible coverage of the Games from beginning to end.

A7135
Canberra

This series consists of photocopies of 24 maps showing the various routes taken during the tour of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh to New Guinea in 1956.

Series: A9362
Quantity: 0.09 metres
Recorded by: 1956 Department of Territories (CA 60)
PHOTOCOPIES OF MAPS SHOWING ROUTE TAKEN BY HRH THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH DURING ROYAL TOUR OF PAPUA AND NEW GUINEA IN 1956

Apart from his visit to Melbourne to open the Olympic Games, during his 1956 tour the Duke also visited the Northern Territory, New South Wales and the ACT. The Duke arrived in Australia on 10 November and departed on 14 December.

A9362

Examples of records relating to the Duke's 1956 tour are:

Series: A463
Recorded by: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Duke of Edinburgh's visit 1956 – ACT Tour Briefs A463, 1956/1273 parts 1–4
Series: A1533
Recorded by: 1953–1960 Commonwealth Investigation Service (CA 650)
Visit of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, 1956 – Programme – Other than Canberra, 1956–1957 A1533, 1956/1518A
Visit of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh to Australia 1956 Olympic year – Vetting file A1533, 1956/1518C
Series: A1861
Recorded by: 1907–1913 Australian Industrial Property Organisation (CA 555)
Photograph of Painting 'A Representation of the Duke of Edinburgh, Who Opens the Olympic Games, Melbourne', 1955 A1861, 7672
Series: A5954
Recorded by: 1937–1971 Sir Frederick Geoffrey Shedden, KCMG, OBE (CP 320)
Press cuttings. Special. Box file No. 3. Articles on the Duke of Edinburgh, 1956–1969

The press cuttings in this item reflect the Duke of Edinburgh's long relationship with Australia. They also show that he has always been a man who speaks his mind. During his visit in 1967, the following news item was reported by The Age on 3 March:

Prince Philip said yesterday that Australia should dispense with the monarchy and become a Republic if it felt it was getting nothing out of the monarchy and would be better as a Republic. 'If the monarchy is of value, retain it,' he said. 'If not, get rid of it.'
A5954, 1131/6
Series: A6122
Recorded by: Australian Security Intelligence Organization (CA 1297)
Government Heads of State – Visit of the Duke of Edinburgh 1956 – Vetting – ASIO file, 1956

Contains details of security checks conducted on members of the Press Corps appointed to cover the Duke's tour, and employees of Bulolo Gold Dredging Limited, a company the Duke was scheduled to visit during his tour of Papua New Guinea.

A6122, 1863
Series: A6895
Recorded by: Recorded by: 1956–1973 Australian News and Information Bureau, Canberra (CA 219)
Visit of the Duke of Edinburgh, 1956–1957

This is a very substantial file (approximately 500 pages) dealing with many of the aspects of the Duke's visit. In particular it contains extensive details about the schedule of his visit to the ACT. It also includes press working plans for the visits to the Australian states and territories, including Papua New Guinea.

A6895, N1956/311

As with all other royal visits, very detailed arrangements for the Duke's visit were made. According to the Minutes of final meeting between Director and Officials, held at Prime Minister's Department Canberra on Tuesday, 6 November 1956 these included obtaining the services of a 'Door Opener' for the Duke's tour of the Australian National University and arranging for the Duke to be able to make phone calls:

Mr Tyrrell said that HRH would most certainly want to contact the Queen while he was in Canberra and would like to be sure that there would be no delays. Mr Dale advised Mr Tyrrell to ring X1183 to book the calls.

The file also contains details about a film of the Duke's tour to New Guinea made by the News and Information Bureau.

Series: A8281
Recorded by: 1954–1973 Australian News and Information Bureau, Canberra (CA 219)
Photo album – Royal Visit 1956A8281, 4 A8281, 4
Sydney
Series: C100
His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. Speech at Parliamentary dinner, Canberra [audio tape], 1956

In addition to the records listed above, the National Archives holds a number of other files relating to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Information about these records is available on Fact Sheet No 57 or via RecordSearch.

C100, 73/5/4563

Proposed visit in 1960 by the Duke of Edinburgh

This proposed royal visit to Australia never eventuated, for reasons described in part in the following records:

Series: A1209
Recorded by: 1957– Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. Proposed visit to Australia 1960 A1209, 1960/258
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

This file contains correspondence between Prime Minister Menzies and Prince Philip about a prospective tour in 1960. For various reasons, the tour did not eventuate. The following extracts from correspondence between Menzies and the Duke partially explain the postponing of the visit and the nature of the Duke's subsequent visits.

M2576, 111

Prince Philip wrote to the Prime Minister on 13 February 1960:

I am afraid that I have caused a bit of confusion by asking Eric Harrison to find out your reaction to my proposed visit to Sydney for the Easter Show and a meeting of the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth.

I gather from your reply that for several reasons, including the expense, you think it is a bad idea. That is all I wanted to know.

The Duke went on to add:

I have held for some time now that long and full scale royal visits at long intervals are getting rather out of date. With modern transportation it is quite possible to make more frequent and shorter trips for specific rather than general purposes.

In Menzies' reply dated 27 February he stated he regretted the confusion regarding the Duke's suggested tour but agreed with his opinion about the shape of future royal tours. This view influenced the Duke's subsequent visits to Australia and the rest of the Commonwealth.

1962 visit of the Duke of Edinburgh

During his tour of 1962, apart from his visit to Perth to open the Empire Games, the Duke also visited New South Wales and the ACT. He was in Australia from 20 November to 2 December. The Government estimated the financial cost of this visit to be £26 826, including £17 775 for the charter of an aircraft to transport the Duke.3

Series: A463
Recorded by: 1956– Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Visit of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh – Empire Games 1962 – Presentation of competitors and visitors from Papua and New Guinea A463, 1962/5477
British Commonwealth and Empire Games – Perth 1962 A463, 1962/6458
Series: A703
Recorded by: 1959–1973 Department of Air (CA 35)
Visit by HRH Duke of Edinburgh to Australia 1962. Air aspects, 1960–1963 A703, 581/1/7
Series: A1209
Recorded by: 1957– Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Visit to Australia of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, 1962 – Security arrangements A1209, 1962/916
Duke of Edinburgh – Visit to Australia 1962 – Overall programme, 1962–1963 A1209, 1962/5689
Series: A18138
Recorded by: 1948–1970 Department of External Affairs (CA 18)
Civil Aviation Non-Scheduled Flights – Flight of the Duke of Edinburgh, 1962 A1838, 716/21/119
Series: A1945
Recorded by: 1957–1974 Department of Defence (CA 46)
Visit to Australia by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh – November 1962 A1945, 234/3/2
Series: A2908
Recorded by: 1930–1952 Australian High Commission, United Kingdom [London] (CA 241)
Visit of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh to Australia, November 1962 for the Empire Games A2908, V82 parts 1–3
Series: A6895
Recorded by: 1956–1973 Australian News and Information Bureau, Canberra (CA 219)
Empire Games Perth, 1962

This file concerns broadcast arrangements made in association with the 1962 Empire Games.

A6895, N1959/96

In addition to the records listed above, the National Archives' Perth office holds a number of records relating specifically to the Empire Games of 1962. Please ask your reference officer if you are interested in obtaining any additional information about these records.

1965 visit of the Duke of Edinburgh

Image 39: The Duke opening the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra, 1965.

Image 39: The Duke opening the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra, 1965.
NAA: A1771, E65/35
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The Duke's 1965 tour enabled him to visit areas in New South Wales and the ACT, although the main purpose of the visit was the opening of the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra. He was in Australia from 19 to 26 February.

Series: A463
Recorded by: 1956– Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh – Visit to Australia – Press announcement, 1965 A463, 1965/203
Visit of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh – Reception of press, radio and television representatives – Government House, 21/2/65 A463, 1965/270
Series: A2908
Recorded by: 1930–1952 Australian High Commission, United Kingdom [London] (CA 241)
Visit of HRH Prince Philip to Australia

This file contains copies of letters between Sir Robert Menzies and Prince Philip discussing dates for a possible royal tour. Also included is departmental correspondence about the difficulty of accommodating another royal visit in such close proximity to the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

A2908, V89 part 1

Eventually it was decided that Prince Philip should visit between 19 and 26 February, leaving in advance of the Gloucester's visit which was scheduled to begin on 13 March. The Prince and the Prime Minister had a number of suggestions as to activities the Duke could perform whilst he was here, including presenting the inaugural Dunrossil Lecture to the Institute of Radio Engineers and planning meetings for the Duke's 1968 Study Conference. The Prime Minister's Department also suggested, 'there is the Mint which could be opened'.4 This the Prince did on 22 February 1965.

The file includes details of other requests for the Prince's time and a programme of events associated with his visit.

1967 visit by the Duke of Edinburgh

Image 40: The Duke with Prime Minister Harold Holt and Mrs Holt at The Lodge, 6 March 1967.

Image 40: The Duke with Prime Minister Harold Holt and Mrs Holt at The Lodge, 6 March 1967.
NAA: A1200, L60989
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In 1967, the Duke was in Australia from 10 May to 5 June. During this period he visited the Northern Territory, Queensland, the ACT, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.

This visit was principally organised to allow the Duke to participate in the planning of the 1968 Commonwealth Study Conference which was to take place in Melbourne. The Commonwealth study conferences were an initiative of the Duke himself who felt:

that the Commonwealth is fortunate in having not only its conferences at Ministerial level… but also conferences or organisations covering almost every professional, military, academic, parliamentary and scientific activity. The only area which does not seem to be adequately covered is the discussion of wide and general issues which are of common interest to all or most members.

The Duke of Edinburgh wonders, therefore, whether it might not be valuable to establish a series of informal conferences to cover this gap.5

This led to the implementation of the Commonwealth study conferences.
Series: A1945
Recorded by: 1957–1974 Department of Defence (CA 46)
Duke of Edinburgh – Royal Visit 1967 A1945, 1967/792
Series: A6706
Recorded by: 1950–1966 Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Duke of Edinburgh Study Conferences, 1965

Contains a letter dated 28 July 1965 from British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan to Menzies. In this, Macmillan briefly explains the concept of the Commonwealth Study Conference.

A6706, 20
Darwin
Series: F1
Recorded by: 1931–1973 Administrator, Northern Territory (CA 1070)
Visit by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh – March 1967 F1, 1967/625

1968 visit by the Duke of Edinburgh

Between 1 and 10 March, the Duke visited the Northern Territory, Victoria, New South Wales, the ACT and Tasmania, in addition to opening his Third Study Conference in Melbourne.

Melbourne
Series: MP1924/1
Quantity: 8.79 metres
Recorded by: 1965–1970 Department of Labour and National Service (CA 40)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES DUKE OF EDINBURGH'S THIRD COMMONWEALTH STUDY CONFERENCE, 1965–1970

The 12 series within this accession deal with the various aspects of the Duke of Edinburgh's Third Commonwealth Study Conference, which was held in 1968.

Examples of items relating to the Duke's 1968 visit are:

MP1924/1–MP1924/31

Examples of items relating to the Duke's 1968 visit are:

Series: A463
Recorded by: 1956– Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh – Visit to Australia 1968 – Invitation to open Royal Women's hospital, Melbourne, 1966–1967 A463, 1966/4950
His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh – Visit to Australia 1968 – Invitation to open The Australia Square project, Sydney, 1966–1968 A463, 1966/5190
Series: A884
Recorded by: 1951–1972 Department of Social Services (CA 32)
Duke of Edinburgh's Third Study Conference, 1966–1968 A884, A3178
Series: A8281
Recorded by: 1954–1973 Australian News and Information Bureau, Canberra (CA 219)
Photo album, Royal Tour 1968 A8281, 45

Notes

Chapter notes | All notes

1 Spearritt, 'Royal Progress', p.214

2 The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 November 1956, p.1

3 NAA: A463, 1964/139

4 NAA: A2908, V89 Part 1, p.22

5 Letter dated 28 July 1965 from British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan to Menzies. NAA: A6706, 20

4 NAA: A2908, V89 Part 1, p.22


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