This clip chosen to be G
On the steps of Parliament House in Melbourne, the Duke of Gloucester delivers a speech on behalf of his father King George V, which declares the city’s centenary celebrations open. At the conclusion of the speech, the crowd in attendance gives three cheers. A brass band accompanies the beginning of the parade past Parliament House.
This clip shows Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester, who is representing his father, King George V, as he officially opens Melbourne’s Centenary celebrations in 1934. The Duke is shown standing on a podium and surrounded by a crowd that includes dignitaries and members of the Victorian Parliament. In his speech he praises the first settlers for their foresight in choosing the site for Melbourne, and describes the rapid growth and prosperity of the city as something that Victorians should be proud of. The crowd gives three cheers at the end of his speech. The clip is in black and white.
Educational value points
- Melbourne’s Centenary celebrated the settlement founded by John Batman, a settler from Van Diemen’s Land, on the Yarra River in May 1835. Batman claimed to have made a treaty with local Indigenous people that granted him ownership of the area, but this treaty was later ruled invalid. The following August another party from Van Diemen’s Land led by John Pascoe Fawkner settled near what is now Spencer Street. Charles Grimes, the surveyor-general of New South Wales, had previously explored the area in 1803.
- Melbourne’s Centenary celebrations, which were launched by the Duke of Gloucester on 18 October 1934, featured a program of events that concluded with a parade through the city on 19 November. The parade marked the establishment of a permanent agricultural and whaling settlement at Portland, near Melbourne, by brothers Edward and Francis Henty. Souvenirs and medallions were struck for the occasion and celebrations included a London-to-Melbourne air race.
- Prince Henry (1900–74), the Duke of Gloucester and the fourth child of King George V, arrived in Australia by ship on 4 October 1934 for a 2-month royal tour that centred on Melbourne’s Centenary celebrations. Gloucester was later governor-general, from 1945 to 1947, a choice that went against the Labor Party policy of appointing only Australians to the position. However, the Labor prime minister, John Curtin, hoped that Gloucester could persuade Britain to come to Australia’s aid in the war in the Pacific.
- In 1835 Melbourne was considered an illegal settlement because prior to 1836 the colonial government in NSW limited settlement to an 86,262-sq-km area around Sydney. However, settlers increasingly occupied the Port Phillip district (Victoria) and in 1847 Melbourne was proclaimed a city, while Victoria became a separate colony in 1851. Melbourne was named in 1837 after the British prime minister, Lord Melbourne.
- In his speech the Duke of Gloucester refers to Melbourne as ‘one of the most populous and wealthy parts of the Empire’. By 1851 Melbourne had a population of about 23,000 people and was a centre for Australia’s wool export trade, a position it owed to the prosperity of graziers who had settled the Western District. After gold was discovered in Victoria in the 1850s Melbourne became the fastest growing city in the British Empire and by 1930 it had a population of 1 million people.
- The organisers of the Centenary celebrations stressed Melbourne’s ties with Britain and represented it as a very British city through slogans such as ‘The Garden City’ and ‘The Queen City of the South’. The Duke of Gloucester’s visit was seen as supporting this relationship and, together with the enthusiastic reception he received from the public during the royal tour, illustrates that in the 1930s Australians still perceived themselves as very much a part of the British Empire.
- Indigenous people were excluded from the celebrations and left unacknowledged in the Duke’s speech, and while Batman was celebrated as a founding father of the city, no mention was made of the land he took from the local Indigenous people.
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