Royal visitors

His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, 1954

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh visited New Zealand, Australia and Ceylon in 1954. During the tour, His Royal Highness visited the University of Sydney on 4 February 1954.

Official functions on 4 February 1954

With milling thousands jostling excitedly to see them at every appearance, Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh spent a crowded day at official functions.

In an historic scene in the Legislative Council Chamber that morning, Queen Elizabeth became the first Sovereign to open the Australian Parliament. The Queen addressed both Houses.

Later she addressed a women's luncheon.

His Royal Highness's arrival at the University

The Duke was enthusiastically acclaimed when he visited Sydney University. As the Duke made his journey through Broadway, crowds breaking the barriers forced his car almost to a crawl. Extra police hurried to the scene to keep the crowds back.

When the car neared the University and when it entered the grounds, dozens of teenage girls blew kisses in the Duke's direction and shouted "Isn't he wonderful?"

Although most students were still on vacation, hundreds were at the University to greet His Royal Highness. As he stepped from the car, about 2,000 grouped outside the carillon tower gave him three vigorous cheers.

The Duke, who had appeared at Parliament House in the white tropical uniform of Admiral of the Fleet, had changed to a grey lounge suit.

Presentations to His Royal Highness

As soon as the Duke stepped from the Royal car to meet university dignitaries, crowds broke through police cordons.

Hundreds of students raced from laboratories in overalls to join the cheering thousands, and jostled to get near him.

His Royal Highness was presented to the Chancellor of the University of Sydney (Sir Charles Bickerton Blackburn) and the President of the New South Wales University of Technology (Wallace Wurth) by the Minister for Education, the Honourable R J Heffron. Then the Deputy Chancellor (Sir Charles McDonald) and the Vice-Chancellor (Sir Stephen Roberts) of the University of Sydney and the Vice-President (Sir John Clancy) and the Director of the New South Wales University of Technology (Sir Philip Baxter) were presented.

Meeting student representatives

His Royal Highness was then conducted to the Quadrangle where five undergraduates of the University of Sydney and five undergraduates of the New South Wales University of Technology were presented to him.

He chatted with many students and addressed several from Thailand in the malay language, greatly to their delight.

Meeting Fellows of Senate and Members of Council

Fellows of the Senate of the University of Sydney and Members of the Council of the New South Wales University of Technology were presented to His Royal Highness in the Great Hall.

Memento of his visit

On leaving the University, His Royal Highness was presented with a specially designed book as a memento of his visit.


He delayed his departure to speak to six polio children. They were sitting with their nurses in a panel van in Science Road, outside the University. They had arrived there from camperdown Children's Hospital two hours earlier to catch a glimpse of the Duke as he left. He left the official party, walked over to the awed children and spoke to a small boy and girl on their nurses' knees.

After he left the University gates, the crowd in Parramatta Road pushed over several barriers and surged on to the road.

The Duke's car was almost brought to a halt in Broadway, when thousands rushed on to the roadway. A police car escorted it, but made little impression on the crowd, which broke and reformed after the Duke's car had passed.

The Duke finished his return trip to Government House at barely three miles an hour.

Police later battled for half an hour to move back a crowd which had broken through the barriers outside the entrance to David Jones.