March 15

Large crowds welcome The Queen

The Queen’s Homecoming continued on Tuesday, 14 March, 2006, with crowds, including many young people,  larger than on the last visit.

In Canberra The Queen saw her Prime Minister, and the Leader of HM Loyal Opposition, Mr. Kim Beazley. She lunched with her viceroys and several former Governors-General. Then she conferred awards on those who so valiantly defended the capital from the bushfires, and in the evening, with HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Her Majesty attended a dinner in the Great Hall in Parliament House Canberra.

 

Before The Queen arrived, the other guests were entertained by pre-dinner music performed by the performed by the Royal Military College Band, Duntroon.

 

 

er Majesty, wearing the Order of Australia, entered to a fanfare and drum roll. As she processed, rather than curtsies or bows, many applauded, as they did in the Cathedral on the Monday. Customs change over time, and what seemed once strange may in a short time be common place.

 

 When the Royal Party reached their places on the platform, following   protocol, the Royal Anthem and the National Anthem were played- magnificently.

 

 Speeches were delivered by the Prime Minister, and Mr. Beazley, and then Her Majesty addressed the assembly and the nation. In this, Her Majesty said:

 

 "It is perhaps difficult for many of you, under the relentless pressure of day to day demands, to stand back and reflect on wider horizons.

"But I hope you will allow me, with a certain sense of perspective as I approach my eightieth birthday and on my fifteenth visit here, to express my conviction that Australia in the course of my lifetime has firmly established itself amongst the most respected nations of the world.

 

"I am clear that this country is already a key global player in the 21st century, a voice of wisdom and honesty, a tough and dependable operator in our exciting, fast-moving world.

 

"So I am grateful to you for inviting me here tonight that I may put on record my enduring faith in Australia and its ideals.

 

"I welcome the chance to express once again my admiration and affection for Australians everywhere; and I thank you above all for this opportunity to reaffirm my confidence in the future of this great country."

 

The Royal Party then proceeded to the high table, greeting each of the  former Prime Ministers. ( All but Mr Keating were present, and all had campaigned for a republic in 1999) . Grace was said  by the  Primate of the Anglican Church,Dr Aspinall. Dinner music was provided by the Australian Youth Orchestra.

 

After the hors d’oeuvres the Prime minister proposed the Loyal Toast.

 

After the meal, people wandered around, talking to people at other tables, which surprised me. One lady, a republican, came up to me to say hullo-I reminded her that the last time we met was at the lunch just after the referendum. I also reminded her that she had said then that that visit  would be The Queen’s last  before Australia became a republic. 

 

  When the meal was over, the Australian Opera tenor, David Hobson, accompanied on the piano by David McSkimming, sang three pieces.   He won the sympathy  of the audience when not one but two microphones failed. I could not help thinking that in some countries someone’s head would roll over that! The Queen and The Duke gave every sign of thoroughly enjoying the entertainment. The assembely stood for the departure of the Royal Party, The Queen breaking off to say a word to Lady Stephen, the charming wife of Sir Ninian Stephen.

 

Mr. Howard returned to mingle with his guests. Meanwhile, one constitutional monarchist, impressed by the monarchist tone of his speech, invited Mr. Beazley to join ACM. He deflected the offer.

 

Another monarchist complained of “monarchists for a day”

 


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