Page 2591 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 20 September 2022

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Though the atmosphere is one of sadness at funerals, it is tempered by appreciating the new things we learn about the person: that old Uncle Bill started out in the Glasgow shipyards at just 14 years of age; that mum’s friend Jean lived and worked in Indonesia for five years in the 1960s; that the Queen drove an ambulance during World War II. There is almost always a surprise; a new reason for respect.

There was certainly an enormous amount to respect and admire about the way Queen Elizabeth lived her life—courage, diligence, a lifetime of public service, and her capacity to grow and change. Her alleged capacity for subtle shade is something I particularly appreciate. For example, she was suspected of sometimes speaking through her choice of brooch. She had a collection of almost a hundred of them, undeniably beautiful treasures. The fact that she wore the same brooch for one of her meetings with Donald Trump that Barack and Michelle Obama had given her during their own visit suggests to me that there was a rebellious spirit inside her that could still make itself felt, even within the strictures of her role.

One of the hallmarks of the Queen’s passing has been the sense of connection that many Australians, and indeed many Canberrans, had to the Queen, and many have shared memories of meeting her in person or attending events that she was at. My own mother has often told the story of travelling by train from Cootamundra to Sydney in 1954, as just a four-year-old child, her mother and three siblings to see the Queen on her first visit to our country. My mother also recalls vividly my great-grandmother transfixed at the television at the first broadcast of the Queen’s Christmas message.

These little anecdotes remind us of a different time and the connection that many older Australians, in particular, hold with Queen Elizabeth. That very first visit of the Queen to Australia after her inauguration is reflected on not only for the comprehensive tour of the country that she made, where it is reported that she visited 57 towns in 58 days, but also for the significant number of Australians who turned out to see the Queen in person on that first visit. As has been noted, she was a regular visitor to our city, the national capital, having been here on 14 occasions, from the opening of Parliament House and the inauguration of Bonython Primary School to the visit to Floriade. That perhaps makes Canberra a place where, even more than others, many of our citizens have stories of occasions that they met or saw the Queen.

Interestingly, in that context of being a regular host for her visits, the ACT finds itself in a unique position with respect to the Queen, even among Australian states and territories. Certainly, we do recognise the monarch in our motto, for instance, but we do not have a vice-regal representative, nor do we have an indirect Crown representative like the Northern Territory’s Administrator. Our Crown functions are instead distributed across offices like the Electoral Commissioner, the Speaker and Parliamentary Counsel.

Someone’s death can often be the occasion for a broader reflection on our own lives or it can act as a turning point for a future direction. We might resolve to live our future lives as fully as the person we are mourning lived theirs. Sometimes we vow to avoid the mistakes they made. It can take months or even years for the thoughts and decision processes that began when we heard of the person’s death or attended their

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