Royal visits

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales 1920

Edward, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) arrived in Victoria, Australia 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 degree of Doctor of Laws ad eundem gradum was conferred upon His Royal Highness at the ceremony held on 23 June 1920 in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney.

Addresses and replies

The Dean of the Faculty of Law presented the Prince to the Chancellor

The Dean of the Faculty of Law (Professor Peden), in presenting his Royal Highness to the Chancellor as a candidate for the ad eundem degree of LL.D., referred to the fact that 20 years ago, on, the occasion of the birth of the Australian Commonwealth, the Sydney University had the honour of admitting to its membership his Majesty the King, who was then Duke of York.

"And," he continued, "to-day, after the Great War, in which Australla has won recognition and honour not only within the British brotherhood, but also in the society of nations, it is our good fortune to welcome, for the first time in our history, a Prince of Wales. His Royal Highness has come into our midst as the representative of, his Majesty the King, and in the performance of a duty fraught with high importance to the whole Empire. This University, again, in token of loyalty, and as a tribute to the unique service that the Prince is rendering to British peoples throughout the world, desires to have the honour of admitting him to its membership and to the degree accepted and held by his Majesty the King. I have, therefore, the honour, Mr Chancellor, to present to you his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales for admission as a Doctor of Laws in this University."

The Chancellor's address

The Chancellor said that 20 years ago, when the Australian Commonwealth came into being, the Sydney University had the honour of admitting to its membership His Majesty the King, then His Royal Highness the Duke of York. The University, in token of loyalty, and as a tribute to the unique service that the Prince of Wales was rendering to British people throughout the world, desired to have the honour of admitting him to its membership and to the degree accepted and held by His Majesty the King.

The Chancellor's address contained the following: “We rejoice to think that your gracious visit will strengthen the bonds of the great Empire to which you are heir, and for which many sons of the University have fought, bled, and died."

The Prince's reply

“I am very happy to have been received today within the walls of Sydney University, the oldest in the southern seas, and to have been invested with the honorary degree of doctor of laws. The honour which you have conferred upon me is one which I greatly appreciate, not because I can aspire in any way to rank amongst your high exponents of law, but because it is a genuine privilege to me to be associated with the profoundly important work which this University performs. I thank you sincerely for your cordial address and for the much too-generous sentiments with which you have associated the grant of my degree.

This University has a fine tradition behind it, and, so I believe, an even greater opportunity in years to come. In the early days of the colony of New South Wales you did much to make the atmosphere of the rising state, and to mould its ideas, and you have trained a larger proportion of every successive generation since that time for the broadening needs of State and Commonwealth. You have also kept before you the wider patriotism of the British Empire, and I know that the University had a splendid record in the great war. Many of its sons went to the front, and some, alas, will never return. I congratulate you most warmly on their splendid services, and I offer my heartfelt sympathy to the University for the loss of many gallant sons. You also contributed notably to the scientific work which proved so valuable an auxiliary to our combatant forces in the field. The generation which faced the war has ennobled your traditions, fine as those were, and has left a great example of personal service to King and Empire tor the present generation to pursue. The work of universities in the British Empire becomes more and more important as the political responsibility for Imperial policy and progress becomes more widely spread. I am confident that this University will always set a high standard of civic and political responsibility before its sons and I wish it increasing prosperity and power.”

Captain Allen's address on behalf of the Undergraduates Association

“We declare our fidelity to your house and yourselves as symbols to the unity and freedom of the British Commonwealth of Nations, which, under God’s providence, is the power that assures the safety of our country and the greatest instrument of justice in this world. We think with pride and affection of your comradeship with our own 2,000 fellow-students who, among His majesty’s forces, helped in the triumph of our liberty and the preservation of all our institutions."

The Prince's reply

“Mr President, Ladies, and Gentlemen

I am very much touched by the address which you have presented to me on behalf of the Sydney, University Undergraduates' Association. It is a very short time since I was an undergraduate myself. In point of fact, although I am a doctor of laws in several universities, I am only an undergraduate of Oxford still, and I really appreciate your welcome as undergraduates to this, the oldest university in the Commonwealth. You have referred to my comradeship with your own 2,000 fellow-students, who went to the front in the great war and I assure you that there is a part of my experience which I value more than my long association with those gallant troops, both officers and men. Many I fear will never return, and I offer both to you, their brother-students, and to their families, my deepest sympathy upon their loss. Many of you are now completing or beginning a university course after service in the field. I hope that these will not find themselves handicapped by the time which they have spent overseas. I thank you all for the kind way in which you have received me here, and I wish you much success in your future careers."