1954 Australian Tour: Arrival In Sydney

Royal Hats On Wednesday, February 3, 1954, Queen Elizabeth made history as Australia’s first and only monarch to set foot on its soil, arriving at Farm Cove in Sydney in a floral frock and calot hat of layered crin petals.

Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images  Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

On this tour, the Queen would travel 10,000 miles by air on 33 flights, 2000 miles by road on 207 trips, and visit not only all state and territory capitals except Darwin, but an additional 70 country towns as well. By all accounts, this was a momentous tour and over the next 57 days, we’re going to follow it (and its marvelous hats!) to its April 1, 1954 conclusion from our vantage point today, some 67 years later.

Images from Getty as indicated

18 thoughts on “1954 Australian Tour: Arrival In Sydney

  1. This is a fascinating hat. Together with the Queen’s dress, it looks like the epitome of a 1950s style. However, the hat itself I think could easily be worn today. It reminds me very much of similar small-scale designs of recent times, worn mainly by Mathilde and perhaps Maxima, which feature close fitting decorative elements like this.

  2. Though clearly from a different era, it oozes a summer feel, light and airy. It completes the look. As it looks rather fragile I doubt this hat will have survived.

  3. I have only recently been reading about this phenomenally successful tour in Robert Hardman’s book “Queen of the World”. Apparently King George VI twice planned to visit Australia, after the end of WW2, but was prevented, once right at the last minute, by severe illness. Princess Elizabeth might have gone instead, but was prevented by the two pregnancies which quickly followed her wedding in 1947. Then Princess Elizabeth actually set off in the King’s stead in 1951, but never made it beyond Kenya as she had to go home on her sudden accession to the throne. This made the tour much anticipated. The fact that she was a good looking young woman with a handsome husband, didn’t detract from the huge interest shown in her and everything she wore when she finally arrived.

    • I bought and read that book right after it came out. It is so good, and gave me a lot of new insights and information, especially about the Commonwealth. It was also a helpful reminder of what really went on with Thatcher and South Africa when I watched season 4 of “The Crown”. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read about HM.

  4. Dear Hat Queen. I have learned so much from you about Royal millinery and appreciate your knowledge and the respect you show towards the people who wear the hats, the hat makers and those who comment. I haven’t commented before but the event featured here was one of the most memorable days of my childhood. Along with my parents and sister I was on one of the yachts you can see in the background of the top photo; lined up to create a ceremonial avenue for the royal progress from their “yacht” to first steps on Australian soil. The Queen wore many small hats on this tour – each eagerly analysed by my fashion-forward mother and her friends. I was disappointed HM wasn’t wearing a crown! My own favourite hat of this tour was worn on her last day in Sydney so I look forward to the post about that day. Thank you and long may you continue these fascinating posts.

    • Gwyneth, what an extraordinary moment in time you were able to experience! I love that you were a part of this occasion and remember the hats The Queen wore. Thank you for sharing your story.
      As for this calot, I think it’s so delicate and beautiful and looks so perfect with her summer dress.

    • Gwyneth- When the idea to delve more deeply into this tour popped into my head, I secretly hoped there would be some people who would come forward and share their own, personal memories of it. Your story today does this so wonderfully. Thank you so much for sharing!

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying Royal Hats. It’s a never ending learning experience for me, too!

      • I just came across this- you may be able to find yourself!
        Embed from Getty Images

        • What an amazing photo – certainly more chaotic than my recollection. This discussion has revived such happy memories for me. Our day had started very early when we joined a convoy of boats heading down harbour to welcome the royal yacht SS Gothic as she came through the heads at first light. We then made our way to our designated station in the two lines of boats that stretched from Gothic to the landing pontoon. Looking at these images now I realise we were part of a security plan to keep a clear passage for the royal barge. Once the excitement was over we sailed to a quiet bay for an alfresco lunch of sandwiches and home made apple pie. After the best fireworks I have ever seen (aren’t childhood memories wonderful) two exhausted children and their very tired parents arrived home about midnight. Quite a day!

    • Gwyneth, your personal story is amazing – thanks for sharing it with us. My favorite 1954 Royal Tour hat was worn on February 18th to a Sydney garden party, just prior to HM’s departure for Tasmania; could we be thinking of the same hat? I have tried several times in vain to locate a color photo of it. Did your parents take any photos of the Royal visit? There is also an amusing story attached to this particular hat.
      The SS Gothic (the Royal Yacht) unfortunately had a sad ending. Following a huge fire in August of 1968 while out at sea, it limped back to Wellington, NZ for repairs. Then, after making the long trek back to Britain, it was eventually scrapped. Youtube has a wonderful color documentary film (68 minutes long) about the Royal Tour, and aerial shots of Sydney Harbor show just how massive the Royal Yacht actually was. You may be in the film!

      • Jimbo. We are thinking of the same hat! I too have searched for a colour photo without success. Some time ago I found one that showed the hat’s distinctive design feature but I can’t find it now and suspect it may have been digitally enhanced. Our surviving photos from that day are happy snaps of a family having fun on a special day. The royal barge went by so quickly and we were all so excited that none of us managed to take a successful photo of our royal visitors. I always look forward to your comments on the here and I’m in awe of your research and archiving skills. Good luck with the search.

    • So good to read your personal memories! I too have memories of that time when the Queen was such a leading lady of fashion for a generation coming out of the war. She was never too far from a conversation as we followed her visits with real admiration and loyal fascination. Those ladies in waiting always caught my eye and I was envious of their close proximity.

      How nice to have been able to be nearby and see the details of her costume. I must say that petals were perfect for a young Queen. Greeting her Majesty with a posy and a little curtsy! ‘Of such stuff as dreams are made on’ ?!

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