Newcastle held a special place in Queen Elizabeth II’s heart

Queen Elizabeth II’s visits to Newcastle are being remembered this morning following the death of Her Majesty at Balmoral yesterday afternoon local time in Britain.

Buckingham Palace released a statement to confirm Her Majesty had died peacefully at the age of 96.

She was the longest-reigning monarch, ascending the throne in 1952.

Queen Elizabeth visited NSW on 12 occasions and four of those trips included stopping in Newcastle.

First in 1954 as a part of her very first Royal Tour arriving by train at Newcastle railway station, again in 1970, in 1977 during her Silver Jubilee celebrations and finally in 1988 for the Bicentenary.

John McNaughton was the Lord Mayor of Newcastle between 1986 and 1995 and is today recalling Her Majesty’s visit in 1988.

He and his wife Margaret spent hours with the Queen and Prince Phillip when they officially opened Queens Wharf and the International Sports Centre.

“Margaret and I were with them for about six or seven hours straight. We met them at about 10 in the morning and we farewelled them from Williamtown at about 5 in the afternoon and it was a most memorable occasion,” he said.

“The most remarkable thing was that I asked her about replacing the photographs in City Hall in the council chamber and she went and had a look at them and said she was quite happy with them, they were very old from when Prince Philip and her were quite young,

“Now, you no doubt have seen a photograph of Queen Elizabeth in a long blue frock with the Order of Australia on it standing by the piano at Yarralumla, Government House in Canberra,

“The Governor-General at the time told me later that was done at my request, and she sent that photograph and one of Prince Philip signed by them. That’s a most unusual thing and the city has them now and I suppose they’re even more valuable now,” said Mr McNaughton.

He said the Queen was very relaxed the whole day, as was her husband.

“We met her at Queens Wharf and we drove from there to Customs House and then we walked with her along that long way down along the main road and that’s where the cars were parked. As it happened, we stood at the waiting for Prince Philip who was caught up talking to people,

“She was very relaxed!”

Newcastle Council has a visitor book that has been signed by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on every occasion they visited Newcastle. It was put together for their very first visit in 1954 and Mr McNaughton said they signed it every time after, including in 1988.

Image and video: University of Newcastle