Ipswich Grammar Air Force cadets form a guard of honour for the Queen Mother and Ipswich Mayor James Finimore at Queens Park in 1958.
Ipswich Grammar Air Force cadets form a guard of honour for the Queen Mother and Ipswich Mayor James Finimore at Queens Park in 1958. Contributed

Queen's visit revives memories

QUEEN Elizabeth II may not be heading to Ipswich during her 2011 royal visit but the region has its own proud history of welcoming the British Royal family.

On five occasions Ipswich has rolled out the red carpet, most recently for Prince William during his 2011 tour of the flood affected region.

Ipswich welcomed the Australian colonies' first ever royal visitor on February 26, 1868 when the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Alfred, arrived in the city by steamship.

More than half a century passed before the region welcomed its second royal, the Prince of Wales, who would later become King Edward VIII.

While his reign as monarch may have been less than popular, his trip to Ipswich in 1920 was definitely well received. Newspaper reports of the time detailed his appearance at a civic reception in Queens Park.

"The Prince made a fresh, pleasant appearance ... attired in a light grey overcoat, wearing red and white sweet peas in his buttonhole, his blue eyes sparkling," the report read.

Perhaps the most famous Ipswich royal visit occurred on February 19, 1958, when the Queen Mother visited the city attracting more than 12,000 people to a civic reception in Queens Park.

A Queensland Times article published on February 20, 1958 described the atmosphere at the event.

"Displaying with every gesture the radiant and lovable personality which has endeared her to millions, Her Majesty was escorted by the ceremonially robed mayor to the dais. At this stage the cheering from the flag waving crowds surged to an excited pitch of intensity."

Ipswich resident June Kay, who was 28-years-old at the time, fondly recalls her first glimpses of the Queen Mother.

"She was a beautiful lady in blue with a beautiful peaches and cream complexion," Mrs Kay said.

Army and Air Force cadets lined the path through Queens Park as Ipswich Mayor James Finimore accompanied the Queen Mother to the stage.

More than 50-years on Dr Russell Stitz, now a leading Australian colorectal surgeon, recalled that day in Queens Park.

"There was still a huge amount of interest in the Royal Family, and the Queen Mother had a great reputation," Dr Stitz said.

"Our job was to stand at attention. I can tell you they made sure our boots were sparkling and uniforms were spick and span."

Former Queensland Times cadet journalist Gary Stubbs also had fond memories of his brush with royalty.

"I can remember the event as clearly as it happened yesterday."

"It was just 12 years after the end of World War II and she was particularly respected and almost revered for the role she and the king played during the war. There were also a lot of women there, which makes sense because most of the men were probably off working in the railway, the mines and woollen mills in Ipswich."



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