Senate debates

Friday, 23 September 2022

Death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth Ii and Accession of His Majesty King Charles Iii


10:49 am

Photo of Anne UrquhartAnne Urquhart (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

URQUHART (—) (): Whether you're a monarchist or a royal watcher, or whether you support Australia becoming a republic, this is a time when we reflect on the life of Queen Elizabeth II. For those like me who are avid watchers of TheCrown series on TV, I'm sure we all feel we have more of an insight into the life and times of Queen Elizabeth and her family. Wherever our views lie, we cannot dismiss the extraordinary life of the Queen, a life of privilege marred with turbulence, sorrow, grief and many other emotions that most of us experience in our lives. She was a Queen, a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother, and those who loved her will of course grieve and miss her dearly.

That extraordinary life really started when, at the very young age of 25, upon the death of her father, she became Queen. She was the only reigning monarch that many of us would have known in our lifetime. My own mother was an avid royal watcher, and in fact I think she had every Women's Weekly, every Woman's Day and any other magazine that featured any one of the royals on its cover. I know that she would have been saddened by the death of the Queen.

The Queen visited Australia 16 times from 1954 to her latest trip in 2011 and was the first British monarch to set foot on Australian soil. The first visit, in February 1954, saw her greet over 70,000 ex-service men and women, drive in cavalcade with massive crowds, attend many civic receptions and open the Australian parliament in Canberra. During this tour, she travelled 10,000 miles buy air and 2,000 miles by road, including 207 trips by car and appointed royal trains. It's estimated as much as 75 per cent of our population saw the Queen and Prince Philip on this tour, a staggering feat indeed. I can recall at a very young age visiting Launceston to catch a glimpse of the Queen amongst the crowds. I think it was in 1963. Again, this would have been at my mum's insistence. I met Queen Elizabeth at a reception in the Great Hall in October 2011 during her final visit to Australia. The Great Hall was of course packed full of people, and, as she moved through with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, I was introduced to her.

She had a love of animals and always had dogs by her side. She was gifted a corgi for her 18th birthday named Susan, and, according to some sources, Susan even joined the royal couple on their honeymoon. That lineage of breed continued for the next eighty years. However, Queen Elizabeth chose to stop breeding corgis after the death of her mother in 2002. It's also reported that the Queen had a personal cemetery built at Sandringham Estate, where every royal pet has been buried since 1887.

She won the admiration of many Australians during her reign. People have marvelled at her unflagging service. And, if you happen to look through the itinerary of a royal visit, the schedule is punishing, and to have maintained that type of schedule for 70 years is astounding. I'm sure we all know now those famous words to Commonwealth nations on her 21st birthday, that her whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service. It's a promise that she kept. May she rest in eternal peace.


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