Written by BGS Historian and Archivist Chris Price
The BGS community wishes to extend our deep sympathy and acknowledge our sincere respect on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Her extraordinary dedication to duty and service was a hallmark of her long reign.
In 1954, Queen Elizabeth toured Australia, the first monarch to do so. By way of tribute, we recount some observations from BGS boys who were involved in the ceremonies.
School Captain Ross Thomas recounted that on the day the Queen arrived in Brisbane the entire BGS cadet unit lined a portion of Coronation Drive as the royal motorcade passed. The following day, 60 officers and senior cadets took part in the march past for the Queen at the Exhibition grounds. Cadet Under Officer Lionel Hartley had the distinction of representing the BGS Cadet Corps at the Royal Investiture ceremony at Parliament House. Ross Thomas said that “the memory of these great occasions we were privileged to participate in should be cherished in the years to come.”
Thomas also attended the Royal Ball at Brisbane City Hall. He wrote of the fanfare when the oak doors opened and the Queen entered. There was the surge of the national anthem which “arose as if from nowhere”. He said that “such an unforgettable scene made everyone realise the full significance of the occasion”.
Sixth Form student and Cadet Under Officer David Bell wrote of his involvement in Camp Royal in Canberra. He was part of the cadet unit at an official engagement at St John’s church. He wrote, “It was a wonderful moment. The band was playing, the people were cheering, and on the road were thousands of soldiers. And there with all the noise, loyalty and military might stood our Queen looking not only beautiful, but more than that – composed and symbolic.”
On three occasions members of the Queen’s family have planted trees at Brisbane Grammar School. Her grandfather, King George V, visited as a young Prince in 1881. Her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, visited in 1968 at the BGS Centenary. During the School’s sesquicentenary in 2018 Prince Edward visited. The trees surround the Boarders’ Lawn and remind us of our royal visitors.
Queen Elizabeth II was respected and revered by people all over the world. She inspired many through her selfless actions and tireless efforts. She was the torch-bearer for service-leadership, a model worthy of us all to emulate.