Senate debates

Friday, 23 September 2022

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


12:06 pm

Photo of Claire ChandlerClaire Chandler (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

ator CHANDLER () (): I rise to pay tribute to a truly remarkable woman: a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother; the head of the Church of England; a monarch and the head of state of 16 nations; for most Australians the only head of state we have ever known—Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, Queen of Australia.

We have been blessed to have had a Queen and head of state who carried out her duty for 70 years with the stoicism and good nature that endeared her to so many. The affection and respect in which Her Majesty was held by so many Australians has been evident in the days since her death. I know I speak on behalf of many Australians when I extend my deepest condolences to His Majesty King Charles III, the Queen Consort, the Prince and Princess of Wales and the extended royal family at what must be an incredibly sad and tumultuous time as they adapt to a life without their great matriarch.

I myself never had the fortune of meeting Her Majesty during her last visit to Tasmania; I was still in primary school. But in the past weeks I've spent some time paging through the history books looking over photos and footage of the Queen's visits to Tasmania—including her first visit in 1954, just a year after her coronation. There is no mistaking the excitement of the crowd in their cheers and waves. You cannot help but smile to yourself when you see the expressions on the faces of the children who were fortunate to meet the Queen, nor can you miss the genuine pleasure on Her Majesty's face at receiving such a warm welcome.

Across seven separate visits to Tasmania during her reign, the Queen saw much of our state and met many thousands of our people. She attended school athletics carnivals, opened hospital wards and museums, and even visited apple orchards in the Huon Valley, where I grew up—accompanied invariably by the Duke of Edinburgh, her husband of 74 years, her strength and stay.

In 1954, on her first visit, she attended memorial services for Tasmania's war dead, laying a wreath with the Duke of Edinburgh at the Hobart Cenotaph and planting a tree on the Queens Domain. Watching footage of this event, the importance of this tribute from the Queen for a population which lived through the horrors of World War II was striking. As the commentary on the newsreel footage from 1954 said, 'For the men and women who have spent a large portion of their lives on the fronts of war, the presence of Her Majesty was a splendid occasion.' We cannot underestimate the significance of the Queen, the first female royal to join the armed services as a full-time active member, honouring their courage and their sacrifice and paying her respects to the fallen.

Australia's admiration for the Queen has spanned across generations. Under her reign, decades passed, the 20th century finished and a new millennium began. As the length of her reign grew, so too did our respect for a woman who devoted her life to a duty which was incessant and all consuming but which she nevertheless carried out without complaint for just over seven decades.

Since her passing was announced in Australia early on the morning of Friday 9 September our time, like so many in our community, I have reflected on Her Majesty's unparalleled life of service and what it meant that she was our Queen, my Queen. She was only 25 years old when she ascended the throne. She had been married less than five years and had a young family. Her father, King George IV, was only 56 when he died, leaving her the throne much earlier than anyone could have anticipated. While the then Princess Elizabeth had undoubtedly come to terms with the duty she would one day undertake as monarch, it is hard to imagine that she had no regard for the sacrifice that she was making in having to take on the role at such a young age, both for herself and for her family.

We ought to remember that this was 1952, when working mothers were nowhere near as commonplace as they are now. Yet, in the new Queen, the world had an admirable example of a woman devoted not just to her family but also to her role as sovereign, because duty demanded it of her, and she did so without complaining; she just got on with the job. This is not only an example of almost unparalleled commitment for which we should all be grateful as an act of service to our nation in the Commonwealth but also an example of selfless dedication to which all of us in public life should aspire.

Throughout her 70 years as monarch, Her Majesty rarely had a day off, was fiercely devoted to her many patronages and charities and never lost sight of the fact that her relationship with her people was not that of their commander but rather that of their servant.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be sadly missed by millions of Australians but so too will she be remembered for her wisdom, grace and compassion and for her tireless service to our Commonwealth and to the people of our great nation. Vale Regina. Long live the King.


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