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image icon Invitation to banquet with the Prince of Wales, Perth, 1920

Invitation to banquet with the Prince of Wales, Perth, 1920
Invitation to banquet with the Prince of Wales, Perth, 1920
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library


This is an invitation from the Premier of Western Australia to Alex McCallum to attend a banquet on 3 July 1920 at Government House, Perth, to meet His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales (1894-1972, later King Edward VIII 1936). The invitation measures 34.5 cm x 29 cm, is printed in sepia tones and features a photograph of the Prince and the Western Australian emblem. The four corners show iconic views of the state, and wildflowers complete the design.

Educational value

This resource is useful because it:

  • This asset is an example of a formal invitation from the Western Australian Premier to attend a state function in 1920 - this large and beautiful invitation is designed to be a commemorative item marking the visit of the Prince of Wales, as well as providing information about the banquet at Government House; Sir James Mitchell was Premier of WA at this time, serving from 1919 to 1924 as leader of a Nationalist government.
  • This asset indicates that Edward, the Prince of Wales, visited Australia in 1920, representing his father King George V, to thank Australians for the part they played in the First World War - travelling on the royal yacht 'Renown', he visited all the states between late May and mid-July and, wherever he went, public holidays were declared, receptions and balls held, foundation stones laid and memorials unveiled; it was one of the most popular of royal visits to Australia, with people warming to Edward's humour and modesty.
  • This asset suggests the strong relationship between Australia and England, the 'mother country', in 1920 - Australia was proudly part of the British Empire and the visit of the Prince of Wales was an occasion for much celebration and excitement across the nation; in WA, there were two balls, a state banquet and numerous receptions held for the Prince.
  • This asset shows a photograph of the young Prince of Wales wearing his army uniform - Edward had served with the Commonwealth Forces in the First World War and made a point of meeting ex-servicemen and women during his Australian tour; he was affectionately known as the 'digger prince', the ultimate Australian compliment.
  • This asset shows the badge of the Prince above his photograph - the badge features three ostrich feathers (a symbol of obedience, and serenity or peace) surrounded by a crown with the motto 'Ich dien'; in German, the motto means 'I serve', while in old Welsh, 'Eich dyn' means 'Your man'; the Prince was crowned Edward VIII on 20 January 1936 after the death of his father, George V, but before the end of the year he took the unprecedented step of abdicating so that he could marry a twice-divorced American woman, Wallis Simpson.
  • This asset suggests important aspects of the identity of Western Australia in 1920 - iconic views of the state occupy the four corners of the invitation and feature sailing boats on the Swan River, the mining industry, harvesting of wheat and timber felling; four WA wildflowers, banksia, boronia, wattle and kangaroo paw, complete the design.
  • This asset indicates that prominent members of the WA labour movement were invited to participate in important state occasions - the WA Government was a non-Labor government and Alex McCallum (1877-1935) was General Secretary of the Australian Labour Federation in WA (1911-21) when he received this invitation; he accepted the invitation and attended the state banquet.
  • This asset shows the unofficial emblem of Western Australia at the time: a design featuring a lion and a unicorn above a black swan and the motto 'Cygnis insignis' (a Latin pun meaning 'Distinguished for swans') - WA's coat of arms had its origins in 1829, when British settlers established the Swan River colony and adopted the black swan and the motto as an emblem; the coat of arms, which now features two kangaroos and a swan, and carries no motto, was given official sanction when Queen Elizabeth II (born 1926, Queen from 1952) granted arms to the state in 1969; the black swan was proclaimed as WA's bird emblem in 1973.