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Goldfields historian reflects on monarch’s two visits to the region

Queen Elizabeth II visited the Goldfields twice during her reign, in 1954 and 1988, and both times there was a big outpouring of patriotism, local historian Tim Moore says.

Mr Moore, the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder local history and archives officer, said the Queen was supposed to visit WA in 1953 on her honeymoon tour with Prince Philip but as King George VI, her father, died, she had to return to England.

“The coronation took place and then she did the massive world tour of the Commonwealth and the dominions,” he said.

“So she was here in 1954 and there was a huge deal made of it — there were activities on the oval in Kalgoorlie, street decorations like you wouldn’t believe — bunting and flags everywhere.

“She toured both main streets of Kalgoorlie and Boulder.

“At the old airport, there is actually a plaque on the tarmac where she first stepped foot on the Goldfields.

“And then in 1988, for the bicentennial, the Queen came out again and of course it was another huge affair.

“There was the unveiling of the plaque at town hall and a function inside — there was a huge affair out on the oval in Kalgoorlie. Everybody was there — it was choc-a-block.

“I was there — we all stood behind a cordon and the Queen walked around and talked to everybody and they showed us the gold nugget they had gifted her.

“All up I think we were lucky enough to have the Queen in the Goldfields for about 12 hours. The effort of her coming up here is what is so special,” he said.

“The whole town — the Goldfields — was all about God, kingdom, and country from the 1890s all the way through so it was always a patriotic place.

“During war times, all the men and women of the Goldfields went off to fight for God, Queen and country.”

Mr Moore noted the significance of the Goldfields to the empire and the war efforts in both WWI and WWII.

“The Goldfields bankrolled the empire in the early part of the 20th century. It was all about service to Australia and to the Crown.

“The gold coming out of Western Australia kept the empire going through both world wars. The amount of gold produced was instrumental in the war effort — all of Australia’s surplus.

“Every time they came around asking for money for the war effort, people of the Goldfields just gave and gave and gave.

“There is now the whole drama of succession — but this is all new, this is the first monarch death in the age of social media so what we are seeing now is all very new but there are the old protocols that will be followed.”

From his research, Mr Moore notes there were protocols followed by the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder upon King George VI’s death that will once again take place in due course.

“When I look back on the records of 1953-54, I can see the council actually had to reaffirm their oaths, so a special council meeting was held. And of course the portraits will have to change.

“There were special services held in all of the churches. The whole town went into a period of mourning when the King passed.”

Mr Moore said the monarch’s passing was sad but as a historian it was an interesting and exciting time to experience.

“It’s only the boomers that have lived through a period of three monarchs. Gen-X and onwards, we have only known the Queen so this will be new for so, so many people,” he said.

“This is something that so many generations have never faced or seen before.

“To be celebrating her jubilee and meeting her 15th British prime minister to passing away two days later just shows her character and her commitment to the Commonwealth.

“That’s the sort of lady she was and there is no doubt she will be missed.”

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