For the 1953 coronation in Britain, the principal decorations for the processional route along The Mall were four twin-spanned steel arches which were illuminated at night and featured decorative motifs including coronets, lions and, wait for it, unicorns. The arches were lifted into place by giant cranes. After the coronation, the arches were disassembled and the decorative pieces gifted to the Australian Government to adorn the streets of Canberra for the Queen’s visit in 1954. The pieces were incorporated into three arches designed and fabricated by the Department of Works. They were positioned around the Parliamentary Triangle, with one directly outside (Old) Parliament House featuring a hanging coronet and topped with a lion and a unicorn. The remaining arches were positioned at either end of the façade of the building so the Queen and Prince Philip would pass under the arches in their motorcades. The building itself was decorated with Union Jacks, Australian flags, and the ever-popular bunting.
Other cities around Australia jumped on the celebratory arch bandwagon. From regional towns to large cities, arches in all shapes, sizes and styles lined the main streets of the towns and cities on the Queen’s route.
In a rare occurrence, Sydney and Melbourne set aside their differences and agreed to share an arch. First used in Park Street in Sydney, the arch was hastily disassembled and swiftly moved to Melbourne. Imagine, packing up the arch and loading it onto a truck and fanging down the Hume Highway racing ahead of the Queen on its way to its new home on Bourke Street in Melbourne city. But sometimes one arch just is not enough! Both Sydney and Melbourne constructed other arches to beautify other streets in their cities.