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

Date: 1901
Overall: 310 x 368 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Invitation
Object No: 00032224
Place Manufactured:Melbourne

User Terms

    This is an unissued invitation from the Prime Minister Edmund Barton to attend the opening of the Parliament of the Commonwealth on 9 May 1901. The invitation was published by Sands and McDougall Limited, and was designed by Tom Carrington.

    The image shows a young woman with armour and sword on a horse bowing to an older woman. The women represent the young nation of Australia asking Britain for honour and acceptance. The room is hung with heraldic bunting and shields, including one of the Union Jack and one showing the Southern Cross. Six young women looking on represent the six Australian states.

    The invitation cites Kipling's Commonwealth Ode:

    Loyal she gave the greeting, royal she bowed her head, Crying 'Crown me, my Mother, and the old Queen stood and said, Blood of our foes on thy bridle and speech of our friends in thy mouth, How can I crown thee further, O Queen of the Sovereign South? Daughter no more but Sister, and doubly daughter so, Mother of many princes and child of the child I bore.
    SignificanceThis invitation is significant in showing the celebrations and national imagery the 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.

    Additional Titles


    Web title: Invitation to the opening of the first parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia

    Related People
    Illustrator: Tom Carrington

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