In this column on 5 April, 2006 I told of an eye witness report from a man who had been at the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. He said that when Dame Kiri sang Happy Birthday, about 90% of the crowd, without any invitation to do so, stood, faced The Queen and joined in. When Dame Kiri went into God Save The Queen, almost everyone stood and boomed out the words. He said you could feel the love and affection for The Queen across the stadium of 80,000 people. I told him of a band of young constitutional monarchists who had distributed several thousand copies of both anthems outside the MCG.
Another eye witness, Hans Paas of Newport, confirms that this report was correct .
He writes that “The vast crowd joined into the singing of Happy Birthday but then took a few moments to realise what Dame Kiri had gone on to sing and within another few seconds everyone in the stadium was on their feet singing with the same gusto we had sung Advance Australia Fair earlier.
Then at the end there was a roar from the crowd and a sustained standing ovation.
My partner was watching HM through binoculars and observed everyone in the Royal Box slowly getting to their feet as they realised what was happening. The
two Royal Princes must have realised that this was a Royal Salute after all and stood -awkwardly at first- as if they were not sure of the propotcol.
Then Prince Phillip leaned down and urged HM to stand. Clearly our Queen was stunned by the affirmation and acclamation of the crowd. Unlike during the Golden Jubilee celebrations she had not prepared herself for this
great gesture of affection. We could all tell that she must have been moved. In a way it turned out better because the crowd decided on what the right protocol was and left it to the misguided politicians to join us.
I know I am biassed but I think everyone felt they wanted to snatch this opportunity to show how they felt about this marvellous lady.It may sound lame in this macho era but love was really in the air. You could just tell that whatever the people in that crowd think about our constitutional future, we were in the presence of the most famous woman in the world and we
loved it and her.
A footnote about Advance Australia Fair. It was also sung with great gusto but I had a sense that it was sung to The Queen as she stood there on the dais
apart from the other dignitaries. Her arrival had been greeted with much applause and cheering but then we really wanted to sing our National Anthem for our Queen.
I only attended the Opening Ceremony because I was guaranteed that I would see The Queen- maybe for the last time in this country and for me it was a most satisfying experience. From the moment she arrived I felt a little more proud to be an Australian and to be there with all these other Australians in the presence of our Queen.”
As I said in my earlier column, the crowd obviously didn’t think our Royal Anthem is too British, just as most Australians don’t think the flag too British, our legal and political system too British or our language too British. The average Australian is endowed with too much commonsense to think otherwise.
The rank and file Australian honours and respects The Queen of Australia. .