From the Archives, 1958: The Queen Mother dazzles Melbourne

First published in The Age on March 4, 1958


Victoria Bids Queen Mother Good-bye Today

A DAY crowded with cheering people, exciting events and happy memories yesterday ended the Queen Mother’s Victorian programme.

The Queen Mother, standing in a Land Rover, drives among the cheering school children on the Melbourne Cricket Ground

Today Melbourne bids her farewell. The Royal aircraft leaves Essendon airport at 11.10 a.m. for Adelaide.

A glittering ball at Melbourne Town Hall last night – the Queen Mother arrived nearly 15 minutes late – climaxed the unforgettable five-day stay.

The thousands, who had waited hours outside in the cool night air, roared an enormous welcome as she arrived in a closed car – a dazzling, fairy book Queen dressed in a crinoline gown of white tulle. Lights sparkled from her diamond tiara and earrings.

The Royal escort of motorcycle police were forced to drive their machines into the milling crowd as it broke through barriers and swarmed towards the Town Hall steps.

Foot police formed a human barricade to force the people back.

The Queen Mother waves to the crowd along St Kilda Road

The Queen Mother remained, as always, unperturbed. Leaving the car she turned towards Swanston Street and lifted her hand in the now familiar salute.

Many in the great crowd waited on for her departure.

The Queen Mother waved and smiled her way through the longest and busiest day of her stay here. It began at 10 o’clock in the morning and continued through until near midnight.

At the end Her Majesty was still smiling, still radiant, still more relaxed than all those around her.

Wherever she went she was followed by tens of thousands…most of them women and children. For many it was a last opportunity to see the Queen Mother.

Hours ahead they waited patiently behind barricades, often knowing they would catch little more than a glimpse as the Royal car swung past.

Schoolchildren form the word WELCOME during their spectacular demonstration for the Queen Mother at the Melbourne Cricket Ground

Day of Magic Moments

For Melbourne, yesterday was filled with magic moments.

At MELBOURNE CRICKET GROUND in the morning, 35,000 children screamed out one of the biggest welcomes of the Australian tour. Standing erect in an open Land Rover, the Queen Mother circled slowly round every group on the arena.

From the Royal box, she saw the children spell out a huge “Welcome” on the carefully manicured M.C.G. turf.

At ST. KILDA TOWN HALL, representatives of 200 women’s organisations overcame their natural curiosity and behaved as if it was a normal morning tea party.

Staring was taboo as the Queen Mother moved slowly through the hall, often stopping to talk with the guests.

At Queen Victoria Hospital in the afternoon, the Queen Mother declared open the new Jessie McPherson block and visited patients and premature babies.

At the Town Hall the Lord Mayor, Cr. Thomas, presents the Queen Mother with the Address of Welcome from the City of Melbourne.

“What a bright, sunny room,” she exclaimed when she saw one of the new rooms at the hospital.

In a colorful ceremony at Wilson Hall, University of Melbourne, the Queen Mother received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws, and told a medical student she was sorry the students ″⁣were so quiet.”

The students’ traditional pranks failed to materialise due to tight security measures.

“It seems a shame if the students are stopped altogether.” Her Majesty said: “Unless they reach the uncomfortable stage, it is fun.”

Flour bombs, she added, were “a little uncomfortable.”

Then, after dinner at Government House, it was on to the ball.

Unscheduled Incidents

During the day there were the unscheduled incidents that typified the loyalty and affection of the younger Victorians.

Outside the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind yesterday morning, the Queen Mother stopped her car to receive a bouquet of gardenias from a seven-year-old blind girl. “Thank you, so much. They are lovely,” said the Queen Mother to Margaret Oliphant, of Nhill.

Five hundred students of the Emily McPherson College of Domestic Economy strewed flower petals and leaves on the roadway in front of the school as the Royal progress passed on its way to the University.

Tens of thousands are expected to line the route this morning for the final Royal progress of this triumphant tour.

The Queen Mother will leave Government House at 10 a.m. for Essendon. The Royal car will pause outside Melbourne Town Hall for a farewell from the Lord Mayor (Cr. Thomas).

The Queen Mother will arrive at the airport at 11 o’clock.

“During your brief stay, you have endeared yourself to the people,” the Premier (Mr. Bolte) told the Queen Mother at the Queen Victoria Hospital yesterday.

“You have met the people, and we are all the better for it.”

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