Politics

Leaders gather to remember the Queen at national memorial service in Parliament House

Politicians, ambassadors and other guests have joined the governor-general, prime minister and opposition leader for a special service to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s life.

The service, which took place in the Great Hall at Parliament House, began with a minute’s silence in remembrance of the Queen.

As well as federal MPs, premiers and chief ministers from around the country, China’s ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, and former governor-general Quentin Bryce attended.

Many leaders, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, signed the condolence book for the Queen before the service began.

Ngunnawal elder Aunty Violet Sheridan delivered the Welcome to Country before a clip of the Queen opening Parliament House in 1988 was played.

Governor-general David Hurley spoke first and recounted two stand-out moments from his time in London for the Queen’s funeral.

One was walking through Green Park and seeing the “thousands upon thousands of tributes”, the other was the moment her coffin was lowered into the royal vault at St George’s Chapel.

“I had thought that I wouldn’t be emotional, but I was,” he said.

“She was my Queen.

“I don’t pretend that I had a special relationship with her, though our encounters are now treasured, but she was part of my life.

“I’m still trying to understand what I, and I dare say we, witnessed in London last weekend — something bigger than us but something very personal.”

Mr Hurley also acknowledged the Queen’s death had prompted a range of reactions.

“I’m conscious to respect that many First Nations Australians shaped by the colonial history have brought a reconciliation journey, that is a journey we as a nation must complete,” he said.

Queen was a ‘reassuring constant’ 

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Anthony Albanese spoke about the Queen’s historic reign which saw periods of great global change.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese began his speech by noting the Queen’s reign spanned “more than half the life of our modern federation”.

“Through 16 tours across the seven decades, Queen Elizabeth visited and connected with every part of Australia,” he said.

“Amidst the noise and turbulence of the decades, the Queen endured and so did Australians’ affection for her, our sense of connection to her.

“For so many, for so long, the Queen was a rare and reassuring constant in a world of change.” 

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton walking into Queen's memorial service in parliament house
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the Queen embodied humanity’s best virtues.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton described the Queen’s service as “70 years of unwavering and impeccable duty” before referring to a quote from the monarch.

“If grief is the price we pay for love, then the outpouring of global grief in these past 14 days speaks to just how much she was loved,” he said.

“Fate thrust a life of duty upon Elizabeth but to duty, Elizabeth would dedicate her life.

“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.”

While the service was not open to members of the public, screens have been set up outside on the lawns of Parliament House.

The Queen’s portrait, which was in the centre of the Great Hall, was surrounded by golden wattle, sweet peas and dahlias, which are among her favourite flowers. 

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