Years in the Making
Years in the making – the 1954 State Parliamentary Dinner for the Queen’s visit
Preparations for the Parliamentary Dinner for the visit of the first reigning monarch to Western Australia were several years in the making. As far back as 1948 draft speeches were prepared for a planned visit to WA by King George VI, the Queen and Princess Elizabeth. These included one to be delivered by ,Premier McLarty, which stressed the loyalty of Western Australians to the throne and referred heavily to the sacrifices endured and “courage and steadfastness” of Britain and Australia during the World War that had ended only three years before. 1
The 1948 visit did not occur but the Royal Visit – Parliamentary Dinner file reveals a renewed flurry of activity in late 1951 when a visit by the King and/or heir to the throne, Princess Elizabeth, in 1952 to WA, was under very serious consideration. The plans for this visit included discussions about the numbers of various types of knives, spoons, forks, sherry glasses, sugar bowls and long and tall vases required for the ‘King’s Banquet’.
Preparations were far more advanced than in 1948. The archived file has printed admission cards, service passes, and even car parking vouchers for this important Parliamentary Dinner. Again, after much preparation, this royal visit did not occur due to the unexpected death of King George VI in February 1952 and subsequent arrangements for the coronation of Elizabeth as Queen in June 1953. In July 1953 the file contains renewed activity for another visit by the Queen, with Perth to be the last port of call. A State Parliamentary Dinner was scheduled for 27 March 1954.
A Premier's Department file details the preparations – drafted speeches, the food and wines to be served, guest lists, seating arrangements and plans, invitation cards with instructions on the wearing of orders and decorations, running sheets for the event, and even the music to be played, which was to be supplied by the ABC’s Salon Orchestra under conductor Vaughan Hanley, accompanied by the Western Command Band which was to provide an opening fan-fare. 2
The Anglican Archbishop of Perth, Most Rev. Robert Moline DD, was asked by the Premier, Mr Hawke, to provide wording for a Grace for the dinner. Three suggestions were provided, one of them being:
“God give us thankful hearts and good digestions and supply the needs of those who lack. Amen". 3
The Menu was printed and featured ‘Marashino Grape Fruit’, ‘Fillets of Jewfish (sic) Baked in Butter’, ‘Roast Seasoned Turkey with Smoked Ham’, ‘Iced Asparagus Tips’, ‘Rum and Pineapple Trifle with Ice Cream’ and ‘Rarebit Rosettes’.
It would be no exaggeration to say that the Royal Visit and State Dinner for the first reigning monarch to visit Australia had been prepared like no other event ever held in Western Australia before.
2. Ibid. 8 July 1953 – 11 March 1954
3. Ibid. 19 March 1954