The primary significance of this nine-piece place setting is due the fact that it was used by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. In 1954 she became the first reigning monarch to visit Australia. During her stay in Sydney, a State banquet was held in her honour at the Great Restaurant on the 7th Floor of the David Jones department store on Elizabeth Street. In 1984 Mr Charles Lloyd Jones, the son of Sir Charles Lloyd Jones, the Chairman of David Jones Ltd from 1920 to 1958, donated this place setting to the Powerhouse Museum and revealed that the Queen had used it during the dinner.
The Queen's visit of February-March 1954 resonates in popular memory as the most significant of all royal tours to Australia. It was the first visit by any member of the royal family for twenty years. The young, beautiful, newly crowned Queen inspired veneration and excitement. Sydney was her first stop on the tour and the 'Sydney Morning Herald' described her arrival on 3 February:
'Her Majesty the Queen landed at Farm Cove at 10.33am yesterday and received the most tumultuous greeting Sydney has given any visitor ... Police estimated that 1,000 000 people lined the city streets and Farm Cove. At least another half million manned every foreshore vantage point from the Heads to the Bridge in perfect weather'. ('Sydney Morning Herald', 4 February 1954).
Sydney's streets were decorated with elaborate arches and bunting. Shops displayed photographs, flags and royal mementos. The exterior of David Jones department store was lavishly decorated for the royal visit.
The scale of the tour was immense. The adherence to formalities and protocols was paramount, creating a huge amount of work for the organisers. As a result, future royal visits had fewer formalities.
The Museum's collection includes a number of souvenirs from the 1954 royal visit, including philately items, commemorative spoons, china ware, glassware, cutlery, towels, publications, coins, official passes and photographs.