Royal visitors

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales 1920

Edward, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) arrived in Victoria on 2 April 1920 representing his father, King George V, to thank Australians for the part they played in World War 1.

During his visit to Australia, the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred upon His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales at the ceremony held on 23 June 1920 in the Great Hall.

Photographs are courtesy, University of Sydney Archives, unless otherwise indicated. Click on photos for enlargement.

Arrival of the Prince of Wales

Several hundred undergraduates gave His Royal Highness a rousing greeting at the entrance hall of the University Buildings on 23 June 1920.

A guard of honour, under the command of Brigadier-General J W Mackay, was provided by a party of officers, composed of undergraduates, under the command of Captain Harper, and a number of returned soldiers and University Scouts.

They were inspected on arrival by the Prince.

The Chancellor (Sir William Cullen), the Vice-Chancellor (Mr Justice Ferguson), the Registrar and Warden (Mr Barff) and members of the Senate and professorial staff received the Prince at the main entrance, and after formal introductions he proceeded to the Warden's room, where he robed as a Doctor of Laws, a degree which he held from many universities.

The ceremony

During the proceedings in the Great Hall the members of the Guard of Honour filed into the central aisle.

The procession, headed by the Esquire Bedell (Colonel R J A Massie), then proceeded to the platform of the Great Hall, which building was filled to overflowing with distinguished and learned guests. The State Government was represented by Mr T D Mutch (Minister for Education) and Mr E A McTiernan (Minister for Justice). The City Council was represented by the Lord Mayor and the deputy town clerk.

As His Royal Highness entered the Great Hall the organist (Mr. Keith Barry) played the National Anthem, and then the Prince was cheered.

The Dean of the Faculty of Law (Professor J B Peden) presented the Prince to the Chancellor for the ad eundem degree of Doctor of Laws.

Read a summary of the Dean's words.

The Chancellor then shook hands with the Prince, saying, "In the name of the Senate, and by my authority as Chancellor. I admit you to the degree of Doctor of Laws in this University."

As the parchment certificate of the degree was handed to his Royal Highness he was again heartily cheered.

The Chancellor then read an address of welcome to the Prince which was signed on behalf of the Senate by the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, and Warden.

Read a summary of the address given by the Chancellor.

Read the Prince's reply.

The Chancellor then called for three cheers for the King, and these were given with enthusiasm; and they were followed by three more, at the request of the Chancellor, for the Prince of Wales.

At the close the members of the guard of honour marched past in single file, the Prince shaking hands with each of them, using his left hand throughout the ceremony.

Following the conferring ceremony

The Prince then proceeded to the Quadrangle, where a dais was erected, and around which was gathered the undergraduates and their friends. There were then upwards of 4,000 undergraduates of the University, and over 3,000 students enrolled. It was impossible that these could be crowded into the Great Hall, so the more practicable arrangement was adopted.

There were nearly 5,000 people in the Quadrangle, and they gave the Prince a wildly enthusiastic reception.

It was blowing quite a breeze when the Prince commenced his reply but, despite the difficulties of speaking against the wind to a scattered crowd of eager listeners, he succeeded in making every work distinctly heard, even on the outskirts.

Read the Prince's reply.

Captain Allen, President of the Undergraduates' Association, presented an address on behalf of the undergraduates, in which they declared their fidelity to the Prince's House and himself, and to the unity and preservation of all our institutions.

Read Captain Allen's address.

The Prince of Wales responding to the address

The Prince of Wales responding to the address.

After the meeting with undergraduates

From the Quadrangle the Prince was conducted to the Fisher Library (now MacLaurin Hall), where the Librarian (Mr. J. Le Gay Brereton) was presented. He was then conducted through the building.

On leaving the University the Prince was cheered again and again by the crowd of some thousands who had gathered outside the main entrance.

Memorial in the Vice-Chancellor's garden

A stone carving of the Prince of Wales's feathers, which form his heraldic badge, appears above a doorway in the Vice-Chancellor's courtyard - with the date "23 June" and "1920" on either side of the badge. This memorialises the spot below which the Prince of Wales addressed the students.


  • the Report of the Senate for 1920 for the information of His Excellency the Governor and the Executive Council
  • The Argus and the Sydney Morning Herald, 24 June 1920 (Historic Australian Newspapers)