Coloured invitation to Prof WB Spencer MA and Mrs Spencer to witness the opening of the Parliament of the Commonwealth by the Prime Minister Edmund Barton on 9 May 1901.
Invitation cites Kipling's Commonwealth Ode:
Her hand was still on her sword hilt-the spur was still on her heel- She had not cast her harness of grey war-dinted steel; High on her red-splashed charger, beautiful, bold, and browned, Bright-eyed out of the battle, the young Queen rode to be crowned.
Loyal she gave the greeting, royal she bowed her head, Crying 'Crown me, my Mother, and the old Queen stood and said.
The image was designed by Tom Carrington and produced by Sands and McDougall Limited, Melbourne. Cartoonist Tom Carrington's design shows Young Australia, fresh from battle, approaching Britannia for honour and acceptance. Toscin, a radical newspaper, disapproved: 'The spirit of blatant jingoism... has burst out in full vulgar virulence... It is a clumsy, tawdry picture ... inspired by Kipling's drivel on the Old Queen and the Young Queen'.
The original watercolour on which this invitation was based is held in the Wordsworth Collection, Perth.

Physical Description

Printed colour invitation on card featuring an illustration of "The Young Queen" with and accompanying poem by Rudyard Kipling. The illustration depicts a young queen on a white horse bowing before a a male dressed in Roman military costume. Shields depicting the Union Jack and Southern Cross are hung across the top of the room, above a screen of draped white fabric.A group of young women dressed in white classical costumes are gathered to the left of the scene. The composition is framed by architectural stone columns and arches, with invitation text printed on a white scroll above.


On 9 May 1901 the Exhibition Building hosted the opening of the first Federal Parliament, where the new federal parliamentarians were sworn in, before an audience of 12,000 dignitaries and their families. Prime Minister Barton wanted the event to be as inclusive as possible and no other public building in Australia could accommodate such a large group of people.

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York visited Melbourne for the event, creating great excitement as they attended receptions, processions and other functions held in their honour. Melbourne's streets and buildings were elaborately decorated, and people from all over Australia visited for the celebrations surrounding the opening. The Exhibition Building was the venue for many of the events during the week of celebrations which included the opening, a conversazione, evening reception and state schools fete.

Following the opening, the new Federal Parliament sat in Victorian Parliament House until 1927 when Parliament House (now old Parliament House) in Canberra was completed. During this time Victoria's State Parliament sat in a specially designed chamber in the Western Annex of the Exhibition Building.

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