Australia remembers Queen Elizabeth II’s life of service on National Day of Mourning

Queen Elizabeth II has been remembered across Australia as an example of “tireless and selfless service, devotion to duty, and compassion for others”.
A crowd of almost 700 people, which included former prime ministers, judges, military chiefs and other dignitaries gathered at Parliament House in Canberra for a national memorial service, on a one-off public holiday for the late monarch.

Governor-General David Hurley told the service he was overcome with emotion while attending the Queen’s funeral in London as he witnessed the end of a “remarkable chapter”.

“Throughout her reign she constantly demonstrated tireless and selfless service, devotion to duty, and a compassion for others,” he said.
The Governor-General spoke of recently presenting to the Queen, via the now-King Charles III, a specially commissioned work of art combining the Queen Elizabeth II rose and the Australian wattle, in celebration of her platinum jubilee.

“It was incredibly moving to learn she retained it in her private study in Balmoral during her final weeks,” he said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese delivers a speech at the national memorial service for Queen Elizabeth II at Parliament House in Canberra. Source: AAP / (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

“I like to think in those final days she may have looked on that painting and reflected on her many visits to Australia and her love of the Australian people. It was a love that was reciprocated by many of us.”

He acknowledged the Queen’s death had “prompted different reactions for some in our community”, noting the journey to reconciliation with First Nations people was one that Australia still needed to complete.

The procession of key dignitaries into the Great Hall was led by Indigenous performers Wiradjuri Echoes.

A crowd of people at the national memorial service in Canberra.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, partner Jodie Haydon, and others arrive at the national memorial service in Canberra. Source: AAP / (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the Queen did not seek to chase the times, but rather “held to qualities and virtues that are timeless”.

“Love of family, loyalty to country, service to community, kindness to those in need, respect for everyone she met,” Mr Albanese said.
He said monuments to the Queen dotted the Australian landscape, in almost every town and city.

“Perhaps the greatest tribute we can offer her family and her memory is not a marble statue or a metal plaque – it is a renewed embrace of service to community, a truer understanding of our duty to others, a stronger commitment to respect for all.” Mr Albanese said.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton said there had never been a more “dignified monarch, dutiful leader or decent human” than the Queen.
Political leaders past and present, judges, military chiefs and other dignitaries were among guests at the televised service, which also featured a Bible reading, prayers, music and a floral tribute.

Past prime ministers in attendance included Paul Keating, John Howard and Scott Morrison.

Former Australian prime minister John Howard and his wife Janette.

Former prime minister John Howard and his wife Janette arrive to attend a national memorial service at Parliament House in Canberra. Source: AAP / (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Inside the Great Hall, among the sea of black suits, dresses, hats and veils, was the bright orange of SES volunteers, the red of Scout uniforms, and blues and greens of school uniforms.

Australian singer Anthony Callea performed the national anthem.

The 1954 painting of the Queen by eight-time Archibald Prize winner Sir William Dargie formed the centrepiece of the service, surrounded by Australia’s floral emblem, the golden wattle, and the Queen’s favourite flowers, sweet peas and dahlias.


A portrait of Queen Elizabeth II is seen during the national memorial service for Queen Elizabeth II at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, 22 September, 2022. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) Source: AAP / (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

The Queen died on 8 September aged 96, having reigned as Australia’s head of state for 70 years.

Twenty years ago she declared during a visit to Australia her “admiration, affection and regard for the people of Australia will remain, as it has been … constant, sure and true”.

The Queen visited the country 16 times during her reign and was patron of more than 20 Australian charities and associations.

She consulted with 16 prime ministers, and 16 governors-general served in her name.
All eight state and territory leaders were present, as were state governors, justices of the High Court and religious leaders.

Both houses of parliament will sit on Friday to speak on a condolence motion for the Queen and pay tribute to King Charles III.

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