Aunty Violet, thank you very much for your words of welcome this morning. I also acknowledge the Ngunnawal people, the land on which we meet.
Thank you very much Governor-General for your words and representing our country with great distinction in the United Kingdom, and to Mrs Hurley as well.
To the Governors, to former Prime Ministers, former Governors-General, to the Premiers and Chief Ministers, to my parliamentary colleagues, past and present, members of the diplomatic corps, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
On this specially designated national day, Australia stops to remember our dearly departed Sovereign.
Never in modern history has there been a more dignified monarch, a more dutiful leader, or a
more decent human than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
If ‘grief is the price we pay for love’, then the outpouring of global grief in these past fourteen days speaks to just how much she was loved.
Hers was a truly extraordinary reign – the longest serving monarch in British history.
Seventy years of unwavering and impeccable duty.
More than one-hundred countries visited, including our own on sixteen occasions.
And many thousands of people met, all of whom she listened to attentively and treated as her equal.
Succeeding her father aged just 25 years old, Elizabeth inherited an empire in decline, and a country crying out for national meaning in a changing world.
Upon one young person, so much was expected by so many.
Fate thrust a life of duty upon Elizabeth, but to duty Elizabeth would dedicate her life.
She did not look back romantically on Empire.
Instead, she looked with pragmatism, committing herself to championing the Commonwealth.
That ‘equal partnership of nations and races’, as she described it, built on ‘friendship, loyalty and the desire for freedom and peace.’
Our Queen knew that the path to modernity lay not in an emphasis on the people serving the monarch, rather, on being a monarch who tirelessly served the people.
Many Australians had the honour to meet The Queen.
Many caught a glimpse and exchanged a wave when she toured Australia.
Most of us, of course, never met her.
And yet, she was familiar to us all.
On our radios, our televisions, our digital devices, she was a constant, comforting and confidence-inspiring presence.
We gravitated to her gentle demeanour.
We were drawn to her radiant smile.
And we were captivated by her wise words.
Her dedication to duty rarely saw her down tools in paving the royal road of service.
She regenerated the monarchy, leaving an institution fortified for the future.
Aside from our individual memories, how will Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II be remembered in the main?
Well in 2018, she said:
“… through the many changes I have seen over the years, faith, family and friendship have been not only a constant for me but a source of personal comfort and reassurance.”
Indeed, The Queen’s Christmas messages over the years imparted the importance of friendship, of family, and faith.
She said that ‘we all belong to the great brotherhood of man’ and that ‘in times of stress and difficulty…remember that we have much more in common than there is dividing us.’
Seeing the family as the ‘focal point of our existence’ she noted that ‘our contribution as parents will be just as important as any made by scientists and engineers.’
Devoted to her God, Her Majesty aimed to live up to Christianity’s ideals, especially forgiveness.
But she never judged others, stating:
“Whether we believe in God or not, I think most of us have a sense of the spiritual, that recognition of a deeper meaning and purpose in our lives, and I believe that this sense flourishes despite the pressures of our world.”
More than anything else, I think we will remember our dearly departed Sovereign for steadfastly embodying humanity’s very best virtues and values:
Service and sacrifice, fortitude and humility, grace and generosity, forgiveness and empathy.
Virtues and values, of course, which we all admire, but which are under pressure in the modern age.
Perhaps our Queen’s greatest triumph will be a renaissance of these virtues and values as we remember her evermore.
May she rest in peace.