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The BBC's Dominic Hughes
"In 1954, it was a very different place"
 real 28k

The BBC's Jennie Bond
"Nearly three million people packed the streets"
 real 28k

Friday, 17 March, 2000, 16:23 GMT
Australia and royalty: Contrasts with 1954
Royal wave: the visit was a
Royal wave: the visit was a "joyous thing" for Australia
The quiet arrival of Queen Elizabeth II in Australia is a far cry from her first visit to the country nearly half a century ago, when the young monarch was greeted by a wave of adulation.

There were tumultuous scenes as millions thronged the streets of Sydney to glimpse the newly-crowned head of state and her husband, Prince Philip.

The BBC reported that the couple were given a "rapturous welcome" as they drove in an open car along the 10-mile route of the royal procession.

Carnival atmosphere

"All the way, the streets were densely packed and in some places people broke through the barriers and engulfed the Australian troops who lined the route.


Millions wanted to see her
Millions wanted to see her
"Our special correspondent says these crowds gave an unprecedented demonstration of enthusiasm - whether they stood beneath the huge decorations in the centre of the city, or on pavements in congested industrial suburbs, where every window and balcony was thronged, and almost every home transformed by strings of flags and home-made banners.

"The scene was like a carnival as the royal car drove down George Street, one of Sydney's main thoroughfares. Confetti, balloons, cascades of torn-up paper, streamers and flower petals came down like snow from the tall buildings."

Australia's political leaders also gave the royal visitors a lavish reception.


Stamps bore her profile
Stamps bore her profile
Prime Minister Robert Menzies gave the Queen a diamond brooch as a memento of what he described as "a visit to Australia which has been the most joyous thing in our lives".

The BBC's Dominic Hughes says that in 1954, Australians were mostly of Anglo-Irish descent, and many still thought of the UK as the mother country.

A Morgan Gallup poll conducted in 1953 showed that 77% were in favour of retaining the monarchy.

But by the Queen's last visit to Australia in 1992, polls had begun to show roughly equal numbers of monarchists and republicans.


Republicanism then and now
1953 - 15% in favour
1973 - 32% in favour
1983 - 28% in favour
1999 referendum - 45% vote Yes
Latest polls indicate that a majority of Australians now favour a homegrown head of state, but they disagree about how to choose one.

On this theory, last November's referendum only failed to produce a majority in favour of a republic because of the controversy surrounding the proposed new constitutional model.

In recognition of the changing mood, the Queen visited the country only once during the 1990s.

This compares with four visits in the 1970s, and five in the 1980s.

Australian referendum
Organisers of the current visit deny that the Queen's decision to travel to more rural locations is connected with the fact that support for the monarchy was strongest outside the cities.

One of her destinations will be the former gold mining town of Sovereign Hill, where in 1854 a group of miners rebelled against the British-appointed authorities and swore allegiance to a new Australian flag.

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See also:

01 Nov 99 | Asia-Pacific
The birth of republicanism
06 Nov 99 | UK
Queen pledges to carry on
02 Nov 99 | Asia-Pacific
Queen or country?
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