A Royal Romance
Written by Diana Mellueish   
Saturday, 25 September 2004
Belconnen Inn Conference Centre
Canberra, Australia

Transcript as released by the Office of Research and Education

MRS MELLUEISH: Before we head off for ACM’s Special Conference Tour of the Royal Romance Exhibition at the National Museum of Australia, I’d just like to say that from ACM’s point of view, it’s absolutely wonderful that Australia’s National Museum is hosting this display to mark the 50th Anniversary of the first ever Royal Tour to Australia by a reigning monarch.

We at ACM have been celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Royal Tour throughout 2004. In April this year we organised our own display at the Sydney Town Hall to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Her Majesty’s 1954 Tour. I’m sure you will all have noticed the wonderful 1954 Royal Tour Commemorative Banner over here which was very kindly made for and lent to our Town Hall display and to this weekend’s conference by Les Dudman.

In that display in the Sydney Town Hall in April, we used in our display cabinets objects from the magnificent private collection of Mrs Janet Williams from Janet’s Royalty Rooms in Woonona, NSW, to which ACM organised a very successful and enjoyable bus tour last year. Now Janet’s Royalty Rooms is under threat of closure because of actions taken by, we presume, a republican neighbour in the Wollongong Council. Janet’s collection is one of the two largest collections of Royal memorabilia in Australia, and it would be a terrible shame if animosity from one republican neighbour were to result in its closure.

The other major collection of Royal memorabilia in Australia, apart from Janet’s, is that of Cecil Ballard, an ACM supporter, in the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. You may have read Mr Ballard’s wonderful account of his recollection of the 1954 Royal Tour in our July/August edition of the ACM Newsletter in our special centre page feature “What were you doing during the 1954 Royal Tour?”

Mr Ballard has donated a substantial part of his collection of Royal memorabilia to the National Museum and it comprises much of the Royal Romance display which we will see this afternoon. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I fully expect to.

I have a handout here which was prepared for the display ACM organised in the Sydney Town Hall in April. This describes the arduous nature of the 1954 tour where Her Majesty travelled 15000 kms by road, 4,000 by rail and 16,000 by air as well as making over 140 speeches at numerous civic functions. Over 50 years later, now in her late 70s, Her Majesty is still keeping up a round of public duties and travels that would daunt a much younger person.

I’d like to remind you of the promise Her Majesty made on her 21st birthday:

I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and to the service of our great Imperial Commonwealth to which we all belong.

In her more than 15 visits to this country alone, as well as to her other realms and throughout the Commonwealth, she has never wavered from that consistent devotion to her royal duties.

May she visit Australia again soon, and I hope you all enjoy this afternoon’s tour to the National Museum “Royal Romance” Exhibition.