The Royal Family
The Royal Family in Australia
The Royal Family have captured the hearts of Australians since the Duke and Duchess of York landed on our shores in 1927.
As a nation, we have celebrated many significant milestones with the Royals, including the very first visit by a reigning monarch in 1954, the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977 and Bicentenary celebrations in 1988.
From Bondi Beach surf carnivals to Parliamentary openings, take a look through our collection and explore some rare footage of the Royal Family in Australia.
Still image from The Queen in Australia (1954), the first colour feature made in Australia. It documented the first visit of a reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II in 1954.
An Australian National Film Board Production. Produced by the Film Division of the News and Information Bureau of the Department of the Interior in association with Film Centre London. © National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Sir Robert Menzies' home movie collection includes this footage of the Royal tour in 1954.
It shows the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, by car outside the Parliament of Victoria on 25 February 1954. They alight from the car and walk up some stairs on the red carpet past a guard of honour and surrounded by a huge crowd. The clip ends with a close-up of the Royal Standard flag.
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, visit Victoria in 1977. We see them disembark from their plane to be greeted by dignitaries and a crowd of children waving flags. They move through the crowd, stopping to talk to particular children.
Eighteen thousand schoolchildren greeted the Royal visitors that day, giving a sense of the relationship between Australia and the UK at this time.
The Albert family of Villawood, in Sydney's west, are visited at their home by the Queen Mother who is eager to see how the average Australian family lives.
A 17-year-old Prince Charles arrives in Sydney in 1966, greeted by the governor-general and Prime Minister Holt, ahead of a two-term stint at Timbertop, a remote school in central Victoria.
In this Cinesound clip, the young Royal is also seen taking a brief tour of Canberra before jetting off on a boat on his way to Victoria.
Cinesound Review #1788. NFSA title: 29135
Network Ten's morning current affairs program Good Morning Australia was broadcast from the lawn of Kirribilli House on 26 January 1988.
The Australia Day edition of the program, presented by Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Tim Webster, featured coverage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, who were visiting Australia for bicentennial celebrations. In this clip, reporter Lyndel Jacob details the arrival of the Royal couple in Sydney and their attendance at a special concert performance the previous night. Jacob speaks to some of the stars of the show, including Kylie Minogue, Olivia Newton-John and Jon English, about what it was like to perform for the Prince and Princess.
Close-up shot of Princess Diana in Australia for Bicentennial celebrations in 1988. Prime Minister Bob Hawke can be seen in the background.
This is a screenshot from the Film Australia documentary Australian Royal Tours Collection 1901-1988 (1988).
This image captures one of the most disastrous, yet charming, moments in the history of Australian television.
An extremely nervous and painfully awkward Ian 'Molly' Meldrum, interviewing His Royal Highness, Prince Charles on ABC's Countdown during a 1977 tour celebrating the Queen's Silver Jubilee.
Molly's nerves were evident from the very start. He became tongue-tied on numerous takes while introducing the Royal visitor, and at one point wiped his brow and said, 'Your Royal Highness ... oh, I'm sweating like a pig'.
Despite breaking for a glass of water and a pep talk from the floor manager, the interview continued on its downward spiral with Molly losing all composure and introducing the young Prince to a few new expletives.
Prince Charles has since described the interview as one he'll never forget. On Countdown's 40th anniversary in 2014, he jokingly reminisced 'Was it really 40 years ago? It only seems like yesterday. I wish it were tomorrow – I'd cancel it!'
A look back to 1977 and the touring museum of 700 years of British history that was the Royal Silver Jubilee Exhibition Train.
The film shows many of the exhibits and the stories behind them, and follows the progress of the train's 11,250 kilometre trip throughout Australia hauling what was then valued at $100 million worth of treasures.
The bullet that killed Lord Nelson, Queen Elizabeth I's gloves, Princess Anne's wedding dress and Nell Gwynn's silver bellows were among the exhibits on this four-carriage train, the first mobile museum of its kind in the world.
Over a period of four months the train visited 26 centres between Brisbane and Perth and this film records the unique and ambitious project.
A highlight of the Queen Mother's 1958 visit to Australia was a surf-lifesaving carnival held in her honour at North Steyne, Manly on Sydney's Northern beaches.
Her majesty took the opportunity to meet many of the surf-lifesavers before enjoying the spectacular carnival.
At Bondi Beach, the Queen observes an Australian surf carnival, a gathering of teams from surf clubs around the country and New Zealand, all wearing the traditional neck-to-knee surfing costume that was required just after the turn of the century, when Australian surf clubs began.
After the traditional march past, the lifesavers take to the water to give a demonstration of rescue techniques, using both hollow surfboards and surfboats, but the heavy seas play havoc with their plans.
Notes by Beth Taylor
HM Queen Elizabeth II delivers the 1952 Christmas message.
'What a dream she looks ... there is a bride that any man would be happy to see coming down the aisle towards him', says commentator Angela Rippon as an estimated 750 million people watched Lady Diana Spencer stepping out of a glass coach at St Paul's Cathedral, London.
It was Wednesday 29 July 1981 and people all around the world stopped to watch the wedding between Diana and Prince Charles unfold in all its pageantry. Everything runs like clockwork - the wedding procession, adoring crowds, as well as the BBC's commentary and the multitude of carefully planned camera angles revealing both small details and the scale and grandeur of St Paul's Cathedral.
The music, 'Prince of Denmark's March' or 'Trumpet Voluntary' by Jeremiah Clarke, creates a joyful atmosphere as details are slowly revealed: Diana's dress, veil and tiara; her shy smiles as she walks holding the arm of her father, the Earl of Spencer. Watching as a child at the time it all appeared like a dream and today it still elicits goosebumps. Diana became the iconic princess of the 1980s and the wedding was one of the most popular programs ever broadcast. The whole wedding spectacular gave Australians a taste of the grandeur of the British Royal Family.
It's impossible now to watch this footage of 20-year-old Diana smiling and laughing without thinking of the couple's separation in 1992 and Diana's tragic death in 1997 in Paris. Commentator Tom Fleming ironically (in hindsight) describes her procession down the aisle through the congregation of 3,500 people, as the 'longest and happiest walk she will ever take'.
Diana, her bridesmaids and flower girls look like every little princess's dream. Her dress is made of ivory silk taffeta, decorated with lace, hand embroidery, sequins and 10,000 pearls, with an 8-metre train, designed by Elizabeth and David Emanuel. Flouting tradition she kept her veil on throughout the ceremony, topped with a Spencer family heirloom tiara. The full skirt accentuated the tiny waist of the bodice. Big sleeves with lace flounces at the elbow were a very 1980s take on the classic princess look.
Looking on are Charles, Prince of Wales in the full dress uniform of a naval commander, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and the Queen Mother.
This footage was from an Eyewitness News tape English Library Reel no. 0385 and comes from the BBC's feed, complete with commentary.
Notes by Beth Taylor
From the sublime to the ridiculous – take a look at Jeanne Little's televisual curated collection of merchandise commemorating the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.
As well as the obligatory tea towels and crockery there's waving Charles and Di cut-outs, coat hangers and a special commemorative Rubik's Cube!
Jeanne Little was a regular guest on The Mike Walsh Show. She first appeared on the show in 1974 to plug her ailing dressmaking business. She was such a hit that they asked her back again and again and a star was born.
Her unique voice, over-the-top personality, false eyelashes and eccentric fashion sense endeared her to Australian audiences. She won the 1976 Gold Logie for her work on The Mike Walsh Show.
She went on to star in stage and television shows such as panel show Beauty and the Beast on the Ten Network, but retired from television in the mid-2000s.
This clip comes from The Mike Walsh Show: Archive No. 503.
Notes by Beth Taylor
In February 1963, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh returned to Australia for the Jubilee Year of Canberra.
The film follows them on their 9,000 mile tour and shows the beauty and variety of the Australian scene, and thriving development ranging from hydroelectric schemes to universities.
The Queen's Australian tour in early 1963 provides the medium for three neatly blended films illustrating the tour itself, a history of Canberra and an introduction to Australia and its people at work and play.
The main features of the tour are depicted in some detail, while in the section dealing with the history of Canberra the highlights in the development of this city are portrayed in film flashbacks. The final sections show Australians at work.
In this extended report from WIN Television in Wollongong, Prince Charles and Princess Diana are seen attending the opening of the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre in 1988.
This 1927 newsreel shows many small boats and crowds in Sydney Harbour awaiting the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of York for the official opening of Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra.
The royal barge from the HMS Renown motors into Farm Cove, Sydney. The official welcoming party for the Duke and Duchess of York includes Governor-General Lord Stonehaven, NSW Governor Sir Dudley de Chair, Prime Minister Stanley Bruce, NSW Premier Jack Lang and Sydney Lord Mayor John Mostyn.
This unedited newsreel footage from 1934 includes a speech given by the Duke of Gloucester on the steps of Parliament House. The Duke's speech, declaring the city’s centenary celebrations open, was delivered on behalf of his father King George V. At the conclusion of the speech, the crowd in attendance gives three cheers. A brass band accompanies the beginning of the parade past Parliament House.
The Queen Mother arrives at Melbourne airport during her 1958 tour of Australia. She is greeted with a guard of honour before heading to the Town Hall where she is welcomed by the Lord Mayor.
Prince Charles, at a State Reception in Sydney on 4 November 1977 to talk about the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations, refers to three girls who were asked to leave Coolangatta airport before his arrival because their bikinis were too brief.
The Duke and Duchess of York, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, tour Australia for the country's bicentennial celebrations in 1988. In this clip, the Royal visitors greet crowds at Darling Harbour in Sydney.
This 1927 newsreel shows the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of York for the official opening of Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra.
The HMS Renown, carrying the royal passengers, arrives through the heads of Sydney Harbour. The Royal Australian Air Force gives an aerial greeting.
The Queen Mother is greeted by thousands of wellwishers upon her arrival in Adelaide, during her tour of Australia in 1958. She later attends a royal garden party.
An excerpt from Welcome Your Majesty (1958) showing the Queen Mother as she greets crowds in Sydney and Canberra and enjoys a cuddle with a cute baby koala, during her royal visit in 1958.
This documentary of the tour was made by the Australian National Film Board.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip pass a crowd of people while travelling in a convertible car.
Taken from the documentary The Fifth Facade, about the opening of the Sydney Opera House in 1973.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh officially open the Housing Commission’s tower blocks in Waterloo. Residents’ furniture was removed from four units and temporarily replaced with hired new furniture before the royal couple inspected the units. The residents’ furniture was returned after the visit. Summary by Damien Parer.
The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, opens the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane on 30 September 1982. Reporter John Wiseman covers the opening ceremony for Ten Eyewitness News.
The starting of the ceremony was signalled with a kookaburra's call, followed by the familiar Australian cry of 'cooee'. Six-and-a-half thousand schoolchildren ran into position to create the Australian flag, the Games logo and a map of Australia (minus Tasmania because it 'didn't fit'). The giant winking kangaroo named Matilda was emblematic of 'The Friendly Games'.
Once Matilda completed her lap, her pouch opened and children dressed as joey kangaroos ran out towards small trampolines.
Olympian Raelene Boyle was the final runner in the Queen's Baton Relay. She handed the Queen's message to the Duke of Edinburgh. The Queen herself arrived in Brisbane during the Games and presented some of the medals, including the gold medal to Australian swimmer Tracey Wickham. She also closed the Games.
Matilda was relocated after the games to Wet'n'Wild, a water park on the Gold Coast. In 2011 she moved to a petrol station at Kybong, in the Gympie Region of Queensland.
Short film showing the opening ceremony for University House, at the Australian National University in Canberra, on 16 February 1954.
This excerpt shows the the arrival of dignitaries and the official opening speech by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. His Highness was then given a tour of the building and surrounds.
This film was made by the Australian Commonwealth Film Unit and produced by the Australian National Film Board.