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With the loss of Queen Elizabeth II after a reign of 70 years we look back at her role in the South Australian community including her seven visits in 1954, 1963, 1977, 1981, 1986, 1992 and 2002.

As well as holding books of general popular interest relating to Her Majesty, the State Library has the added perspective of collecting uniquely South Australian publications and memorabilia as part of our legislated mandate. From children’s books to works of fiction and poetry, from concert programs to official itineraries, from photographs to film and video, we hope you enjoy this selection of items relating to Queen Elizabeth II in the collections of the State Library of South Australia.

Our princesses and their dogs

Our princesses and their dogs by Michael Chance in 1936 shows the young Princess Elizabeth with the family corgis and Labradors, and an unusual Tibetan Lion Dog.​​​​

South Australian Corononation Dinner table plan

In the Coronation year of 1953 a South Australian Coronation Dinner was held at Grosvenor House London on 27 May, with the South Australian Premier, Hon Thomas Playford as guest of honour. The Library has the plan of tables and names of attendees. For an idea of the type of meal that would have been provided, the Library has a 1944 autographed menu of a dinner at Grosvenor House in London in that belonged to Sir Keith Smith, the celebrated winner of the Great Air Race in 1919.
Coronation celebrations State Symphony Concert

South Australia’s 1953 Coronation celebrations included a State Symphony Concert at Centennial Hall, Wayville on Friday 5 June with long time conductor Henry Krips and soloists Max Worthley and Gwen Collett.
A speech by Her Majesty the Queen

A speech by Her Majesty to a reception by women's organisations 24 March 1954 at Bonython Hall in Adelaide was reprinted in a small pamphlet.
Service of Dedication Berri

Regional areas were involved in the coronation celebrations. A service of dedication was held at the Rivoli Theatre in Berri on Sunday 7 June featuring the Berri Methodist Chorus.
The Story of our Queen

Queens and princesses are beloved by children, so it is to be expected that the world’s most popular children’s writer in 1953, Enid Blyton, would write The story of our Queen which is in our wonderful Children’s Literature Research Collection.

The Story of our Queen

A page view from Enid Blyton's The story of our Queen

The Story of our Queen

A page view from Enid Blyton's The story of our Queen

The Story of our Queen
The Story of our Queen
The Story of our Queen

The Queen’s visit in 1954 was the first visit by a reigning monarch to Australia, and there were many events in South Australia, on 26 February and from 18 to 26 March as published in a 203 page book on the Royal Visit 1954.

Band of HM Royal Marines

The band of HM Royal Marines (The Royal Yacht Band) played a concert at Centennial Hall, Wayville on Saturday 20 March 1954 at 8.00pm with the South Australian Symphony Orchestra, before it was re-named the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

A Day with our Queen

A day with our queen was held at Mt Gambier on 26 February. A souvenir booklet outlines the plans for the day, with instructions on self-catering for people in the days when there wasn’t the availability of cafes and coffee shops. ‘All visitors to Mount Gambler on February 26th will be well advised to bring at least one full meal with them. Make it satisfying, but prepare it in such a way that there will be little to worry about when the meal is finished … and little to dispose of.’

 The logistics of organising a three day royal visit are on show in a 60 page booklet and maps South Australian itinerary: traffic arrangements 1963 compiled by an eight member South Australian Royal Visit Traffic Committee. A selection of pages from the booklet shows the detail required in wrangling MTT public transport, country bus services, barricading of streets, parking restrictions, and a school children’s assembly at Victoria Park racecourse.

The bells of St Peter’s Cathedral rang out at 10.15 on Sunday 3 March 1974 when Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh attended a service for morning prayer.

Daily briefing 1977

The program for the Queen’s visit in March 1977 had colour coded daily briefs.

 The Library has the official programs for the visits in October 1981, March 1986 and February 1992, which are listed among other visits in the Library catalogue on the subject of travel to South Australia.

Other books of interest are: Her Majesty: fifty regal years by Brian Hoey in 2001, Monarch by long time royal writer Robert Lacey in 2002, Queen and country by William Shawcross in 2002 to accompany a television series, The monarchy: an oral biography of Elizabeth II by Deborah Hart Strober and Gerald S Strober in 2002, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to celebrate the platinum jubilee by Brian Hoey in 2022 and Uncommon reader by Alan Bennett - a small format 122 page work of fiction published in 2007 in which Bennett has the Queen becoming such an avid reader that it spills over into her official duties. 

The State Library also has many photographs of royal visits to South Australia, including by noted commercial photographer Vic Grimmett and from the Arthur Photographic Studio of Mt Gambier

You can also see photos by State Library staff during the 1977 visit as the Queen was shown around by Premier Don Dunstan, and some images from 1952 when it was proclaimed in Adelaide that Elizabeth was the new Queen.

In 1963 the Queen visited the Holden factory in Elizabeth and the Library holds some film footage from this visit on our YouTube site.