Garden Party for the Duke of Gloucester
“Caterers desiring to tender for the supply of light refreshments for a garden party during the Royal Visit are invited to communicate with the State Director, Premier’s Department, Perth” 1
On 6th October 1934 a Levee and Garden Party was held for the visit of Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester, the third son of King George V and Queen Mary. The preparation for this garden party provides a good example of the State catering for select members of the public on a large scale. 2500 people were invited and the file records quotations from caterers, information about acquiring and erecting marquees, the selection of bands and musicians and even the programme of music played for this event.
RSL Caterers of Perth led by the capable Mrs E.B O’Connell were tasked with the important job of providing suitable fare for this large Garden Party, held in the grounds of Government House. The menu featured curious cakes such as ‘Desdemona and Othello’s’ and ‘Maids of Honour’ as well as sandwiches of chicken, ham, asparagus, creamed cheese and celery, and caviar. Mrs O’Connell and the RSL team also offered champagne biscuits, savoury cigarettes and more asparagus. As an addendum on this successful tender, garden party attendees were to be offered tea, coffee, mineral waters and ‘Claret Cup’ – a wine punch that was popular at state occasions before the Second World War. All up the catering came to 100 pounds.
It was the social event of 1934. The archived file also holds correspondence between the State Director for the Royal Visit and the Lieutenant Governor Sir James Mitchell. As the Duke was a single man, the Director encouraged the Governor to consider inviting ‘unmarried sons and daughters’ to the Garden Party.
But the following year, the Duke of Gloucester was married to Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott, the daughter of the Duke of Buccleuch. His association with Australia was maintained after this visit and he later became the Governor General in 1945 - his contribution immortalised in WA by lending his name to the most famous tree in the South West - the Gloucester Tree.
Images of the 1934 Garden Party have been provided by WEST AUSTRALIAN NEWSPAPERS and are © THE WEST AUSTRALIAN