photo-icon Chris Oaten

Happy birthday Queen Adelaide

Cultural Heart People of Adelaide

Every August, the City of Adelaide celebrates the birthday (13 August) of the city’s namesake, Queen Adelaide (b.1792 – d.1849) – welcoming everyone to discover a little more about her connection with the city’s history.

Queen adelaide portrait city archives
photo-icon City Archives: HP1/HP1044


Born in Meiningen, Germany in 1792, Adelaide was 25 when she wed Prince William Henry, who went on to become King William IV of England.

It was at his request that the new colony founded in South Australia in 1836 be named after his wife, who became well known for her tireless commitment to civic work.

A little history of the Queen Adelaide Room

Designed by architect Edmund Wright, the Adelaide Town Hall opened in 1866 and was one of the tallest buildings in the new colony. On the ground floor, just past the main foyer, is the newly refurbished Queen Adelaide Room. One of Town Hall’s original spaces, today it’s the building’s main reception room and listed on the South Australian Heritage Register. At its entrance is a statue of Queen Adelaide – a majestic rendered work in bronze and marble, sculpted by Lindsay Daen.

The Queen Adelaide Room was originally called the ‘Exchange Room’, as it was to be tenanted by the Adelaide Telegraph Station and Stock Exchange. That arrangement fell through and the room was hired out for use by private vendors, becoming a popular space for smaller events such as lectures, public meetings, dramatic performances, flower shows, auctions, displays and exhibitions.

From the start, this room was used for the celebration of official Council events, and the chief polling room for Council elections and city-based electorates. Between 1915 and 1916, it was converted into a suite of rooms devoted to civic receptions with all new finishes, carpets, partitions, and doorways. On 14 July 1916, a new suite was opened with a large main space named the Mayoress’ Reception Room.

In 1953, the room was renamed the Queen Adelaide Room, just before Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited Adelaide in 1954. It was during that Royal Visit that Queen Elizabeth II presented the City of Adelaide with a portrait of Queen Adelaide, permanently loaned from the Windsor Castle Collection. An honest portrayal, beautifully depicting Queen Adelaide in her later years, aged 57, this large portrait is a feature artwork permanently displayed in the room.

The Queen Adelaide Room was refurbished and reverted into one large reception room space to entertain the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1983.

.. and the Queen Adelaide Room today

Then in 2017, the room was completely remodelled and redesigned to include modern technology and interconnectivity, while still considering Wright’s preliminary drawings and early descriptions of the room.

“The result struck the necessary delicate balance between elegance, functionality, and historic appropriateness, while still reflecting the feminine elegance and significance of Queen Adelaide."
Andrew Klenke, Heritage Architect, Swansbury Penglase

Watch this short video by Chris Oaten/ Insight Visuals about the 2017 refurbishment below.

As part of its Queen Adelaide birthday celebrations, the City of Adelaide hosts an annual reception in August for anyone named Adelaide. This year's reception was held on Queen Adelaide's actual birthday (August 13). If you, or someone you know honours our City in name, and would like to attend this event in future years, please email the Civic Events team.

If you have an interest in the City of Adelaide's history, the Queen Adelaide Room is available to view during business hours (when not in use) or you can explore it and other historic spaces within the Adelaide Town Hall by booking online into a guided, behind the scenes tour.