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Today’s post is prompted by the royal visit to Australia and the approach of Anzac Day.

The Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VIII, visited Melbourne in May 1920 on board the British warship HMS Renown.

He came to represent his father King George V to thank Australia for its part in the war.

His visit was eagerly anticipated with crowds lining the foreshore between St Kilda and Port Melbourne. However, the Renown was held up by fog outside the heads. So as not to hold up the programme planned for him, the Prince transferred to the destroyer RAN Anzac to be speedily conveyed up the Bay to the New Railway Pier. From there he transferred to the Hygeia and was taken to St Kilda to make the journey in to Melbourne. The Renown made its way up the Bay and berthed at the New Railway Pier where it remained for several days.1 Look at all the people lined up on the Pier and the deck!

HMS Renown
HMS Renown, Allan C Green Collection, State Library of Victoria

The Prince’s visit was very popular. He later recalled

‘The ‘touching mania’, one of the most remarkable phenomena connected with my travels, took the form of a mass impulse to prod some part of the Prince of Wales. Whenever I entered a crowd, it closed around me like an octopus. I can still hear the shrill, excited cry, ‘I touched him!’ If I were out of reach, then a blow to my head with a folded newspaper appeared to satisfy the impulse.’

Port Melbourne had to wait until 1934 for a more fitting entrance to Melbourne when Centenary Bridge was built to commemorate the 100th birthday of Victoria.

The Prince’s visit prompted several re-namings. The New Railway Pier was renamed Princes Pier and Railway Place became Princes St.

And that is why the Pier is not and can never be Princess Pier.

Sources and further information:

1 Barnard, J and Jennings, S 2004 Welcome and Farewell: The story of Station Pier, Melbourne Arcadia  p59

2 Chapter 4: King Edward VIII – Royalty and Australian Society: Records relating to the British Monarchy held in Canberra  2014. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17 Apr. 2014].


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We respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet and work, the Bunurong Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin Nation and pay respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.