The Sunday Mail (Queensland)



Iwas six years old when I joined thou­sands of peo­ple to see Aus­tralia’s new Queen. Stand­ing in a crowd 10-deep along South Dowl­ing St in Syd­ney, home­made periscope at the ready, I searched past the suits and frocks to spy Her Majesty dur­ing her first visit to Aus­tralia in 1954.

I am not en­tirely sure if I saw her that day, but per­haps that is what the Queen is all about — not nec­es­sar­ily see­ing, but be­ing in a so­ci­ety where she is a pres­ence. It con­veys a sense of sta­bil­ity and cer­tainty, part of our sys­tem of gov­ern­ment, our democ­racy, the way we have done things.

For most Aus­tralians, the Queen is the only Bri­tish monarch we have ever known. Her reign has been a source of con­ti­nu­ity for not only our coun­try, but for the Com­mon­wealth and our chang­ing world.

And in just over a week, we will mark a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone in her life.

On Septem­ber 9, the Queen will be­come the long­est-reign­ing Bri­tish monarch, sur­pass­ing her great-great-grand­mother Queen Vic­to­ria’s reign of 63 years, seven months and three days.

To put this into per­spec­tive, Queen El­iz­a­beth II has been Head of the Com­mon­wealth through the terms of 15 Aus­tralian gover­nors-gen­eral and 13 prime min­is­ters; she has ad­dressed par­lia­men­tar­i­ans in Old Par­lia­ment House and opened new Par­lia­ment House; and she has met Aus­tralians in ev­ery state and ter­ri­tory over 16 sep­a­rate vis­its.

Many Aus­tralians will re­call the Queen’s vis­its, in­clud­ing for the open­ing of our land­mark Syd­ney Opera House in 1973, and the Com­mon­wealth Games in 1982 and 2006, and per­haps even her en­joy­ing the sights and sounds of the Ekka!

As we ap­proach this his­toric mile­stone, there is an op­por­tu­nity to ac­knowl­edge not only the Queen’s length of ser­vice, but the job done.

The Queen has car­ried out her role with poise, dig­nity and grace. In 1953, the Queen swore an oath to gov­ern the peo­ple of Com­mon­wealth realms “ac­cord­ing to their re­spec­tive laws and cus­toms” and, for over 60 years, she has up­held that oath through her sup­port of the de­ci­sions and choices made by Aus­tralians.

The Queen’s stew­ard­ship of the Westminste­r sys­tem and the re­la­tion­ship she has demon­strated be­tween the Head of State and demo­cratic gov­ern­ment has been an in­gre­di­ent in mak­ing that sys­tem en­vi­able in its dura­bil­ity and sta­bil­ity.

Aus­tralia con­tin­ues to be a ben­e­fi­ciary of that legacy. While mod­ern Aus­tralian has changed over the past six decades, the Queen’s pres­ence both per­son­ally and sym­bol­i­cally has been a warm and fa­mil­iar one for our coun­try.

I first ex­pe­ri­enced that pres­ence many years ago on a Syd­ney street. And now, as Gover­norGen­eral, I can say Aus­tralia is thank­ful for her en­dur­ing ser­vice.

 ??  ?? The Queen and Peter Cos­grove in 2011.
The Queen and Peter Cos­grove in 2011.

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