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Reproduced courtesy of Estate of Norman Lindsay

Invitation to celebrations of the opening of the first parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia

Date: 1901
Overall: 294 x 361 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Estate of Norman Lindsay
Object Name: Invitation
Object No: 00032223

User Terms

    This unissued invitation from the Government of Victoria is for the opening celebrations of the first parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia in Melbourne by His Royal Highness the Duke of Cornwall and York (later King George V) on 9 May 1901.

    The classical invitation was designed by John Longstaff and Norman Lindsay. In the centre of the invitation is the seated allegorical female figure of Justice. The left side of the invitation represents Britain, with the female figure of Britannia standing beside an oak tree above the Royal Coat of Arms, with the white cliffs of England in the background. The right side of the invitation represents Australia, with a young female figure standing beside a gum tree above the unofficial Australian Coat of Arms, with a pastoral scene in the distance. The top of the invitation is bordered by waratahs, and the bottom of the invitation features early shields of the six Australian states: New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia.
    SignificanceThis invitation is significant in showing the celebrations and national imagery that still connected Great Britain with the new Australian nation that was used to mark the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
    HistoryAs a consequence of the death of Queen Victoria in January 1901, the Royal Tour of the British Empire scheduled by Prince Edward and Princess Alexandra was undertaken by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, while preparations were made for the crowning of the new King (Edward VII). During the eight-month goodwill tour to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada, the Duke and Duchess travelled on HMS OPHIR - an Orient liner converted for the Royal Tour and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 26 February 1901. The main task for the Duke during the tour was to inaugurate the first Australian Federal Parliament in Melbourne, Victoria.

    Leaving Portsmouth on 16 March 1901, HMS OPHIR called the ports of Gibraltar, Malta, Port Said, Suez, Aden, Colombo, Singapore and Albany, before a spectacular arrival at St Kilda pier in Melbourne on 6 May. Once on shore, the Duke and Duchess took part in a grand procession to the centre of Melbourne, marking the start of a week-long celebration of their visit. In cities and country towns across Australia, parades, reviews, balls, dinners, concerts and ceremonies were held to mark the occasion of the first visit by a British heir-apparent (the Duke later became King George V).

    The primary purpose of the visit, however, was the opening of the first Commonwealth Parliament which took place on 9 May 1901. In front of 12,000 guests at the Melbourne Exhibition Building, the Duke addressed the parliamentarians and declared parliament open. After celebrations in Melbourne, the Duke and Duchess travelled to the nation’s state capitals, where celebrations continued.

    Leaving Melbourne, the goodwill tour continued in HMS OPHIR to Sydney, Auckland, Wellington, Lyttleton, Hobart, Adelaide, Albany, Fremantle, Mauritius, Durban, Simonstown, St Vincent, Quebec, Halifax, St Johns and back to Portsmouth.

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