On This Day …

Thursday 12th March, 1868

375px-Henry_James_O'FarrellPrince Alfred, the second son of Queen Victoria, the Duke of Edinburgh, was the first royal visitor to Australia. At the age of twelve, he joined the navy, becoming a lieutenant by the time he was nineteen. Three years later he was made captain and given command of the frigate HMS Galatea.

In 1867, Prince Alfred departed for a voyage around the world, stopping at several ports before landing in South Australian in October of that year. He spent five months in different parts of our country — Adelaide, Melbourne, Tasmania, Brisbane and Sydney — and was generally very well received. Let’s face it, what royal visitor isn’t?

That is, until Henry James O’Farrell came onto the scene in Sydney. On 12th March, 1868, Prince Alfred attended a picnic on the beachfront, an event to help raise funds for the Sydney Sailors’ Home. While enjoying his afternoon O’Farrell approached him from behind and shot him in the back. The bullet hit the Prince, missing his spine by two inches and thankfully missing any other important organs.

The city of Sydney was in a tizzy of excitement, mixed with embarrassment after the attempted assassination. O’Farrell was quickly tried and hanged on the 21st April, in spite of even Prince Alfred trying to intervene. O’Farrell was an extreme anti-royalist and anti-British as well, but perhaps had some mental health issues too.

Prince Alfred was successfully nursed back to health by an attentive team of doctors and nurses and he sailed for home in early April. But in memory of the prince and in gratitude of his recovery, a hospital was built and named The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Published in: on 13th March, 2013 at 10:37 am  Comments (4)  
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