A Royal Shift

From Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee to Australia’s Republic Movement

Today in 2024, the Australian Republic movement is alive and well, and even though our coins still show the Monarch, you would have to visit a state institution such as Parliament House to see a full portrait of the King.

However, this was not always the case. Australian loyalty to the British Monarchy was traditionally strong and expressed in many ways, especially for those who had migrated from or descended from the United Kingdom.

Across the 1800s, roads, buildings and places were named after members of the Royal family; statues and memorial plaques were erected; the Monarch’s birthday was celebrated; and portraits of the King or Queen were hung across Australia. This portrait shows Queen Victoria (1819-1901) who was the British Monarch from 1837 until her death.

This was an incredibly long reign, longer than any of her predecessors, and she held significant power. She is associated with Britain’s period of industrial expansion, economic progress, and Empire growth. This portrait was released in 1887 and celebrated Queen Victoria’s 50-year rule, her Golden Jubilee.

By owning a portrait of Queen Victoria, particularly one that honoured her Golden Jubilee, the owner would have felt an immense sense of pride. It would have hung in a prominent spot on their wall where they and visitors would see it often. It would have contributed to the owner’s connection with Britain, and situated them within the support of the strong white monarchist community in Australia.

Today, in 2024, views have shifted despite the 1999 Australian Republic Referendum failing. Twenty years later, more and more Australian’s are leaning towards the republican movement – will it happen in our lifetimes? Only time will tell!