Page 2588 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 20 September 2022

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then known, the ACT Ambulance Service, ACT Policing, and volunteers from the State Emergency Service and Rural Fire Service. This was important recognition of one of Canberra’s most significant emergencies. Throughout her reign, Her Majesty showed her support for Australians through moments of disaster, tragedy, hardship and resilience.

On her national tour to Australia in 2011, Her Majesty visited Canberra for what would be the final time. This visit included a tour of Floriade, where she memorably arrived by boat from Government House at Regatta Point and was given a tour of the event by former Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and me. She met with the head gardener, Andrew Forster, and members of the horticulture and event team at Commonwealth Park.

As members might know, Floriade had, in fact, ended a week prior to the visit, but the team did an excellent job of ensuring that there were still plenty of bulbs flowering a week after they would normally have been packed away. Of course, Her Majesty had a strong affinity with flowers and gardens, and during her visit to Floriade she drew a favourable link between our own festival and that of the Chelsea Flower Show in England, to which she was a regular visitor. Appropriately, Thursday of this week will be Australia’s National Day of Mourning with a National Memorial Service at Parliament House to be held during our Floriade festival.

Her Majesty’s 2011 visit to Canberra was also significant for another reason: she was greeted by a female Governor-General, a female Prime Minister and a female Chief Minister. This would have been in stark contrast to her first visit to Australia in 1954, when, as the tour records capture well, Her Majesty was surrounded by men in all positions of seniority. What an absolutely essential and refreshing change through
her reign.

It has recently been observed that women have perhaps been amongst the most impactful British monarchs, with Queen Elizabeth II overtaking Queen Victoria as the United Kingdom’s longest serving monarch in 2015. Perhaps the most striking common thread, aside from longevity, has been the unexpected nature of their successions. Neither was born expecting to one day serve as Queen. Reflecting on the line of succession, we are now unlikely to see another queen in our lifetimes.

His Majesty King Charles III also has a long history with our city, having visited on 10 occasions himself, nine of which were official royal tours. I am advised that His Majesty saw his first kangaroo here in 1966; walked through Garema Place in 1981; opened Erindale Library in 1983; rode an ACTION bus in 1985 to the opening of the visitor centre at the Australian National Botanic Gardens; and attended the naming of Queen Elizabeth Terrace in 2012 in the Queen’s diamond jubilee year.

In 2015, I hosted His Majesty and the Queen Consort at a ceremonial tree planting at the National Arboretum. They each planted a pin oak “freefall” tree, the first in an avenue of trees planted along the Event Terrace. These trees are a legacy of their visit to Canberra and will represent the close historical connection between our city and the new British monarch for many years to come, whatever the future has in store.

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