The British royal family's strong ties to Bendigo are being celebrated in a new exhibition at the Post Office Gallery.
'Rule Britannia, the Golden City: Royal visits to Bendigo' will run alongside the Tudors to Windsors portrait show at the Bendigo Art Gallery.
"There have been quite a number of royal visits to Bendigo and they have all been quite eventful," curator Emma Busowsky Cox said.
"There are some really good stories in there amongst it all and the Post Office Gallery is our space for social history stories in Bendigo so it seemed natural tell this adjunct story to Tudors to Windsors."
Members of the British royal family have visited Bendigo eight times since 1867. But Ms Busowsky Cox said she was keen to point out that it "wasn't always pomp and ceremony and great times".
"The first visit was Queen Victoria's fourth child, Prince Alfred the Duke of Edinburgh, in 1867," she said. "It was an all-round disaster.
"Tragically, four young boys died during his visit. Three of those boys were on a model of the ship Galatea, which the Prince had sailed over to Australia on.
"They had a procession with fireworks down the main street and the model ship, which was created for the parade, caught fire from some of the fireworks. The three young boys died in that terrible accident."
Prince Alfred's visit to Bendigo did not improve after that tragedy.
"A special hall was erected next to our Town Hall for a ball for the Prince," Ms Busowsky Cox said. "But that burnt down the night before the big event was meant to take place.
"This was the age of gas lighting so some poor soul was lighting it all up and with one wrong move, the whole place burnt down. It was a very eventful first visit."
Despite the first visit being a complete disaster, princes, dukes and even Queen Elizabeth II all visited Bendigo in the subsequent 150 years.
"I guess Bendigo is the great gold mining city of Australia alongside Ballarat so we did attract the royals," Ms Busowksy Cox said.
"People who came to visit Australia, and they did that on numerous occasions, would normally tie in a visit to Bendigo as the bank-rolling city for the great colony.
"Almost every royal tour involved a tour of a mine, a parade, fancy fanfare and public civic events."
Prince Charles even visited the city on two separate occasions.
"When he came as a single man in 1974, he drove a tram from the fountain to the Joss House," Ms Busowsky Cox said.
"At one point, he did stall the tram and dropped an s-bomb, much to the delight of the tramway staff.
"That story has been passed on from the person who was actually driving the tram."
The Rule Britannia exhibition tells the stories of the royals through photographs, photo albums, old newspaper clippings, and other memorabilia from the visits to Bendigo.
"It's about the Bendigo story and how it relates to the royal family," Ms Busowsky Cox said.
"One of the most spectacular things I have ever seen is a crown that was made for the front of the Beehive Building for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth's father Bertie.
"It's huge, it's made of plaster, and let's just say that we've had it restored for exhibition and it's a little bit wonky but it's spectacular."
Alongside the exhibition, Bendigo Walking Tours are also getting into the royal spirit with specialised trips around the city.
"It's a great opportunity to relive the moments when members of the royal family visited Bendigo," tour manager Jill Hanlon said.
"During our two-hour guided walk, we take a close look at what brought the royals to Bendigo, the fierce competition amongst towns to a host a visit, the extraordinary preparation, and the role of the media.
"These were the most attended, often most expensive, and minutely reported events in the city's history, and often the royals were here for no more than a fleeting hour or so before leaving for the next whistle-stop."
"Much of our research and some of our best anecdotes have been drawn from the pages of the Bendigo Advertiser, which has chronicled every visit in enormous detail."
The free Post Office Gallery exhibition is open to the public daily until September 1. The guided walking tours can be purchased at bendigowalkingtours.com
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