Australia remembers ‘timeless’ Queen

Anthony Albanese's powerful speech for Queen

The Queen has been remembered as embodying “timeless” virtues such as devotion to duty and community service at a memorial service in Parliament House on the official national day of mourning for her.

Thursday’s service began with a minute’s silence observed inside Parliament and across the nation.

Canberra group Wiradjuri Echoes led the official procession into the Great Hall.

An invited crowd of 700 gathered in Parliament. Among them were the Justices of the High Court, federal MPs, state premiers and territory chief ministers, foreign diplomats and the former governor-general Quentin Bryce.

People from community organisations the Queen supported during her reign, including members of the state emergency services and the Scouts, were also invited.

The Queen opened Parliament House in 1988. A recording from that visit was played after Aunty Violet Sheridan delivered the Welcome to Country.

“Queen Elizabeth was a loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother,” she said. “She served a life, she lived a life of service.”

queen national memorial

Former PMs Paul Keating, John Howard and Scott Morrison. Photo: AAP

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, just returned from London and Her Majesty’s funeral, acknowledged his predecessors Paul Keating, John Howard and Scott Morrison among the crowd before delivering a tribute.

“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was the longest-serving monarch in the history of a centuries-old institution,” he said.

“Through 16 tours across seven decades, Queen Elizabeth visited and connected with every part of Australia.

“Amidst the noise and turbulence of the decades, the Queen endured and so did Australians’ affection for her, our sense of connection to her.

“For so many, for so long, the Queen was a rare and reassuring constant in a world of change.”

“Millions of fleeting interactions, still fondly recalled. So many Australians have shared their memories – of a kind word, a gesture of respect, or a thoughtful act of grace on an always-busy day.”

Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney said she believed the service would be received “very respectfully” by Indigenous people.

“There is a huge respect for sorry business – it is part of Aboriginal culture and the reverence to the Queen in my view falls into that category,” she told ABC radio.

Ms Burney noted the “complex relationship” between Indigenous people and the monarchy.

“You cannot divorce the issues of colonisation from the role of Britain going back through the ages,” she said.

queen national memorial

Anthony Albanese and partner Jodie Haydon arrive for the service. Photo: AAP

Governor-General David Hurley told the gathering he was overwhelmed with emotion during the monarch’s funeral in London this week.

“She was my Queen,” he said.

“I’m conscious to respect that many First Nations Australians shaped by the colonial history have brought a reconciliation journey, that is a journey we as a nation must complete,” he said.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the Queen had been his personal “constant”.

“Perhaps our Queen’s greatest tribute will be a renaissance of these virtues and values as we remember her ever more,” he said.

“On our radios, our televisions, our digital devices, she was a constant, comforting and confidence-inspiring presence.”

“If grief is the price we pay for love, then the outpouring of global grief in these past 14 days speaks to just how much she was loved,” he said.

“Fate thrust a life of duty upon Elizabeth but to duty, Elizabeth would dedicate her life.

“More than anything else, I think we will remember our dearly departed sovereign for steadfastly embodying humanity’s very best virtues and values.

“Service and sacrifice, fortitude and humility, grace and generosity, forgiveness and empathy.”

Anthony Callea, who sang for the Queen on Commonwealth Day in 2006, performed You’ll Never Walk Alone, by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.

The crowd in Parliament included 700 guests, among them Canberra school children, while a larger crowd gathered to watch on big screens outside.

Shortly before the service drew to a close, scouts brought wreaths to the stage and invited those at the service to add sprigs of wattle.

A brooch featuring the golden wattle, The Queen’s Wattle Spray Brooch, was gifted to the Queen during her first visit to Australia in 1954.

A 1954 painting of the Queen by eight-time Archibald Prize winner Sir William Dargie served as the centrepiece of the service. It depicts the late Queen wearing the wattle spray brooch.

For the late monarch’s platinum jubilee earlier this year, Mr Hurley presented the late Queen and the new King with an artwork that combined the Queen Elizabeth II rose with wattle.

Her Majesty’s favourite flowers, including sweet peas and dahlias, were laid out in front of her portrait on Thursday.

As the service closed the Australian Girls Choir sang God Save the King.

There will be a special sitting of federal parliament on Friday to hear condolence speeches marking the Queen’s death and to welcome the reign of the new King.

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