The Queen's 90th birthday reception speech

To mark Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday today, current Governor, His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC and Mrs Kaye de Jersey hosted a reception at Government House, at which were present four of The Queen’s 11 Queensland representatives during her reign.

In Queensland, the Governor is the representative of The Queen, Queensland’s Head of State, and fulfils important constitutional, ceremonial and community duties.

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Queensland’s current and 26th Governor (third from left) was joined at the reception by the State’s 23rd Governor, Major General the Honourable Peter Arnison AC, CVO, retd; 24th Governor and former Governor-General, the Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce AD, CVO; and 22nd Governor, the Honourable Ms Leneen Forde AC, along with a broad cross-section of dynamic Queensland life.

His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC is presently the Administrator of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia while the Governor-General is overseas, and delivered the following speech at the reception:

I am very pleased that, through a coincidence of history, the 90th  birthday of The Queen of Australia, Queen Elizabeth the Second, has fallen during my term of office as Governor of Queensland – the 11th  Queensland representative during Her Majesty’s reign – giving me the immense honour and privilege of extending congratulations on behalf of all Queenslanders.

As Her Majesty’s representative here in the State named by and for her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, it is an added pleasure for me, with Kaye, to host this reception in a home which was built during Victoria’s reign and which has welcomed many Royal visitors since it became Government House in 1910, including Her Majesty on numerous occasions.

In fact, members of the British Royal Family have made more than 40 visits to Queensland since 1868 when Queen Victoria sent her second son, Prince Alfred, to Australia as our very first Royal visitor.

The local newspaper of the time, The Brisbane Courier, reported “a restless, feverish excitement as seemed to pervade all classes during the whole time”.

More than 80 years later, in 1954, Queen Elizabeth the Second was greeted by an even greater level of enthusiasm when she became our first reigning monarch ever to visit Australia.

I can personally attest to the level of public interest aroused by that Royal visit because my parents decided to drive the 70 miles from our home in Maryborough to Bundaberg to see our Queen. I was five years old at the time but I have distinct memories of catching a glimpse of Her Majesty as she was driven past, standing with her husband, The Duke of Edinburgh, in the back of a Humber Tourer.

Since that historic first Royal tour, Her Majesty has made seven further visits to Queensland, and the respect with which she is regarded and the great affection we have had for her since her childhood, have never diminished.

Many endearing expressions of that affection are held in Britain’s Royal Collection. One of them, displayed to the public for the first time at Australia House, London on Australia Day earlier this year, is a gift sent in 1934 to the then seven-year-old Princess Elizabeth: a book listing her antipodean namesakes – all the Elizabeths of Queensland.

Her Majesty has returned our affection in countless ways, most recently in the summer of 2011, when she sent a letter expressing her compassion and concern for flood victims, and when she not only sent Prince William to visit Queensland after the floods, but later made a visit herself, together with The Duke of Edinburgh, to buoy our spirits and strengthen our resolve as a community.

On behalf of all Queenslanders, I extend our warmest and most respectful best wishes to Her Majesty on her 90th birthday. I also express our immense gratitude for the impeccable, gracious and dignified service she has given during her 64 years as our Head of State.

In recognition of the immense contribution she has made to our State, our nation, and to the world, I ask you now to join me in a toast: to Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth – The Queen.

Addendum:

Thank you for honouring the toast as you have, ladies and gentlemen. With your indulgence, I add the following points by way of addendum.

Firstly, by a further coincidence of history, and as an additional honour for our State, I am currently Administrator of the Commonwealth while our Governor-General is overseas.

Secondly, a printed version of tonight’s address has been dispatched to Buckingham Palace, so that Her Majesty would have advance notice of the sentiments I intended to express, and The Queen’s Private Secretary has confirmed receipt of that.

Thirdly, I confirm, most appropriately on this occasion, that the bronze statue of The Queen currently fronting George Street, will be installed here at Government House in time for our Queensland Day Open Day on June 4.

Her Majesty will stand, for all to see, prominently on the Western Formal lawns, surveying the House and estate, and looking, if distantly, towards the Parliament, the Executive, and her former location.

Finally, our Queen would I know be pleased that police recruit dog ‘Gavel’ made his debut at this reception tonight in her honour. He is already a much admired – indeed with his rapid growth increasingly respected, new resident in this domain!

Thank you.