I am profoundly saddened by the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, but deeply grateful for her life of dedication and service.
Queen Elizabeth was never meant to be Queen. When she was born she was the eldest daughter of the Duke of York – the equivalent in today’s generation of Princess Beatrice. The abdication of her uncle Edward VIII in 1936 and the accession of her father George VI made her heir to the throne.
It was a promise that she kept right until the end.
During the war, Princess Elizabeth played her part serving as a mechanic in the army.
On her father’s death she became Queen Elizabeth II, our longest serving Sovereign.
She has been a constant in a changing world. During her reign Australia has had 16 Prime Ministers. She has provided leadership above politics.
The Queen visited Australia on 16 occasions; her first visit was in 1954 and her last was in 2011.
She took a deep interest in Australia. Australians who have met her were always impressed by how well informed she was about Australia and it’s people. She always sent messages at times of tragedy and natural disaster and was there at times of hope and celebration.
She took a particular interest in indigenous Australians. I remember when a group of prominent indigenous leaders went to London to see her in 1999. They said they had a better hearing from Her Majesty the Queen than they had ever had from any official in Australia.
Queen Elizabeth has been an exemplary monarch. Always following the advice of her Australian prime ministers.
I had the privilege of being introduced to the Queen briefly when she was here in 2001 at a reception in Parliament House. I remember she was shorter in person than I had imagined and although the introduction was brief she seemed to have a genuine interest in everyone she met.
In a sense, the Queen’s death represents so much more than the death of one woman but the end of an era. Queen Elizabeth was a living link with the wartime generation – our Greatest Generation – who put country before self. A generation whose values of service, modesty, quiet dignity and thrift reshaped the world
for the better. The generation who came through the depression and war to rebuild the world with hope and optimism about the future.
After the events of September 11 2001, Her Majesty sent a message to the American people: “Grief is the price we pay for love.”
Australians loved and respected Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and today we grieve her passing and remember her life of service.
The Queen is dead. Long live the King!