Monday, 15 February 2010

The Queen's special Australian Anniversary

When in Australia, The Queen is able to undertake some of the ceremonial roles of the Sovereign. On 16th February 1954, for example, The Queen opened the third session of the 20th National Parliament in Canberra, wearing the gown she had worn for Her Coronation the previous year.

The National Museum of Australia describes this event with enthusiasm:
"One of the most eagerly anticipated events was the opening of Parliament in Canberra. For this The Queen wore her white satin coronation gown which was flown from London at a cost of 75 pounds. Even though the gown was specially packed for the journey, it still took three days to iron the wrinkles out!
"The Queen looked magnificent in her sunray fringe tiara and heavily embroidered gown in the solemn setting of the Senate Chamber."
On 15th February 1954 Queen Elizabeth II, The Queen of Australia, became the first reigning Australian Monarch to visit and open the Federal Parliament. As well as opening Parliament she unveiled the Australian-American Memorial at Russell. Her visit highlighted the ceremonial role of Canberra as the national capital.

The National Museum of Australia summed the Royal visit up by putting it into the historic perspective:
"In political terms, the particular relevance of The Queen's first visit was set by the Statute of Westminster, issued in 1931. Prompted by the governments of Canada and South Africa, the Statute gave the Dominions of the British Empire the chance to establish themselves as independent nations of equal status to Britain. This formal independence changed the role of the Crown, which now became the foremost symbol of unity among the independent peoples of the British Commonwealth. However, successive Australian governments did not see fit to ratify the Statute until 1942, when British power east of Suez had collapsed at Singapore and the fear of Japanese invasion gripped the Australian nation.

"Official war artist
[Sir] Ivor Hele was given the opportunity of a lifetime when he was commissioned to paint The Queen opening the third session of the twentieth Parliament on 15 February 1954. [Sir Ivor], an artist with a strong sense of history and a talent for portraiture, was ideally suited for the commission.

"The 1954 visit gave Australians the chance to the reconnect with Britain and for Britain to witness scenes of loyalty from Australia

The Diamond Jubilee provides the perfect opportunity for The Queen to open the Parliament of Australia again.

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