Brisbane, 1954: The First of Many Visits of Queen Elizabeth II

Few can draw a local crowd like the Queen can and fewer still can make the entire world pause briefly in remembrance. Here is a look back on the historic days in 1954, when Queen Elizabeth II, the only reigning British monarch to have come to Australia, came to Brisbane and motored down Kingsford Smith Drive, Queens St, George St, and Coronation Drive to the delight of the waiting crowd.

On 8 September 2022, Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully in Balmoral Castle. With her passing comes the end of a lifelong dedication to duty and service.

The Royal Visits

Since 1867, Australia has had more than fifty Royal tours. Only six of these visits happened before 1954, the year Queen Elizabeth II first came to visit in a gruelling Royal Tour that lasted nearly two months.

She visited every state in the country and two of the mainland territories. 

She would return 15 more times since that first visit but 1954 will go down in history as the first and most memorable.

Photo Credit: State Library of Queensland

During their first Royal Tour in QLD, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh toured the state for nine days and spent seven of those days in Brisbane, where people showed up in large numbers to welcome them.

Traffic arrangements for the 1954 visit to Brisbane was a particularly daunting task, magnificently handled by the Commissioner of the Police. 

Royal Visit to Queensland 1954
Brisbane Route of Royal Progress, Day of Arrival 9 March 1954. Royal Visit to Queensland 1954: Working Programme (QPM Collection)  Photo Credit: My Police QLD

All About the People

Presenting flowers to the Queen outside Brisbane City Hall. 
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Referring to the massive undertaking that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh assumed on their trip, Giselle Bastin, Associate Professor of English at Flinders University, writes

“During the tour, the queen greeted over 70,000 ex-servicemen and women; drove in cavalcades that took in massive crowds; attended numerous civic receptions; and opened the Australian Parliament in Canberra. The tour saw Elizabeth travel 10,000 miles by air and 2,000 miles by road – including 207 trips by car and by appointed royal trains.”

“It is estimated as much as 75% of the population saw the Queen and Prince Philip during this tour. No Australian prime minister has ever had a reception on this scale or exposure to so many of the country’s citizens.”