The Prince of Wales makes his way through the crowds to meet the Mayor in 1920.
The Prince of Wales makes his way through the crowds to meet the Mayor in 1920. Maryborough Wide Bay and Burnett

History of royal visits on the Fraser Coast

THE visit by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is an historic occasion for our region and will hopefully be very memorable for the young couple.  

I believe the last royal visit was by Prince Harry's father, the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, in 1994. Before that visit we have also welcomed other relatives of Prince Harry.  

Each one of the visits has been special in different ways.  

The visit that is still very fondly remembered by many locals is from 1959 when Prince Harry's third cousin twice removed, Princess Alexandra (pictured below), visited to great fanfare. 

  When Princess Alexandra was born on Christmas Day 1936 it was the last royal birth to take place under the quaint tradition of having the Home Secretary present to verify the birth of a potential heir to the throne. At the time of her birth she was sixth in line to the throne and is now 52nd.  

She arrived by car from Bundaberg on September 2, 1959 for a civic reception with the mayor Robert Hunter followed by a reception on King's Oval where she spoke to students, watched displays and drove in a Land Rover through the assembled ranks of children amid great excitement. 

 A number of those who were there on the day have told me of their colourful memories of the experience.

That night thousands packed the streets of Maryborough to catch a glimpse of her arrival at the Royal Ball held in her honour at City Hall. The Courier Mail reported that she was wearing "one of the most spectacular gowns she has chosen since her arrival".

The decorations in the City Hall were extraordinary, and, according to officials, the Royal Ball "set a standard not equalled in any other city".

The Princess was enjoying herself so much she was loathe to leave, but eventually, nearly an hour after the scheduled time, departed for her overnight stay at the Hyne's residence, "Ilfracombe".  

The next morning she left the grand riverside home at 10.15am and took a route lined with school children and patriotic citizens bidding her a flag-waving farewell.   

Princess's Alexandra's older brother, Prince Edward, is the Duke of Kent and married to Katharine, the Duchess of Kent.

As you can see on the large plaque at the front of the building, she visited Maryborough on February 28, 1992, for the specific purpose of officially opening the City Council's Administration Building in Kent Street.

After touring the building with the mayor Alan Brown she met with a number of citizens at City Hall. She was particularly interested in, and attentive towards, a set of infant triplets (Sally, Thomas and Matthew Richers).   

The most famous and celebrated royal visit was also the shortest, when Prince Harry's Great-Great Uncle, Edward VIII, visited when he was Prince of Wales in August 1920.  

The Maryborough Chronicle wrote that it was "the biggest day that Maryborough ever experienced - a day in which memorable events were crowded into one short fleeting hour.

It was the first visit of royalty to this little outpost of a mighty Empire".   

The excitement of the day was increased by the presence of the first aeroplane to the city.

Flown by Maryborough man Captain Percy Snell, it arrived about 9.40am, circled over the gathered crowds below, and dropped pamphlets (from Finney Isles and Co whose plane it was) before landing at Anzac Park (Ululah). The royal train pulled into the platform at the Maryborough Station at 10am and departed at 11am.

In the intervening hour, the Prince of Wales greeted a large number of Maryborough's citizens, with returned servicemen and war widows being foremost among them.

There was a cavalcade of cars escorted by mounted constables which made up the procession from the Railway Station down Lennox, Kent, Ferry, Sussex, Bazaar, Wharf, Richmond and Kent Streets to the City Hall. A number of large decorated arches were built over the streets.

Alderman Fowler of the city council was responsible for the design of these arches.

They were substantial structures, upon which many people stood up above the street.  

Along Kent Street, the Prince was enthusiastically greeted by 3000 schoolchildren arranged along the embankments. They had come from about 30 schools, some as far away as Mundubbera, and as the procession approached they threw flowers on the road and sang the National Anthem "in perfect unison".  

As the train pulled out, a little later than scheduled, St Paul's bells pealed out, the bands played and the railway yards were crowded with cheering, waving people.

They were keenly aware that they had been part of something historic in the presence of the future king.  

When I meet with the Duke and Duchess next week I will tell them of these previous visits and make sure they feel as welcome as their family members did.  

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