Reception to Celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Becoming the Longest-Reigning British Monarch
Our Premier; Acting Chief Justice; the 25th Governor-General and 24th Governor Dame Quentin Bryce, the 22nd Governor Mrs Forde, and Mrs Arnison, another former distinguished resident of Fernberg; our elected representatives; Your Honours; and our welcome, distinguished guests.
In recent decades, we have become accustomed to records of all kinds being established one day, and broken within a few weeks, days or even hours later.
But a number of very few achievements seem destined never to be surpassed. At the end of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1901, many people probably thought that her many decades on the British throne would never again be matched.
If so, they were mistaken.
Today – well tomorrow at about 2.31am Brisbane time – the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second reaches 63 years, seven months, two days, 16 hours, and some 31-odd minutes (although the exact timing is disputed), longer it seems by a minute – and counting – than that of Queen Victoria.
We are, however, celebrating far more than the Queen’s longevity. We are, as ever, celebrating the manner of her reign.
The style and character of Her Majesty’s reign as Australia’s Head of State was set well before her accession to the throne when, on her 21st birthday in 1947, she pledged that her life would be devoted to the service of her peoples.
Since then, as Princess and then Queen, Her Majesty has given us all a master class in commitment to duty and service, and in how to be the very model of a constitutional monarch.
And she has done so through decades of rapid and ever accelerating change at every level from the global to the personal.
To take but one example, when Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh first visited Australia in 1954, Australians had to watch the film footage in their local cinemas, well after the event. There was no television.
Sixty years later, we carry our televisions around in our pockets, and the Royal Family has its own YouTube channel.
Through the decades, Her Majesty has responded to change with a mixture of judicious adaptation and steadfast commitment to those core values of devotion to duty and to service.
She has done so with the dignity and graciousness that so characterise her long reign, and that Kaye and I were privileged to experience, in abundance, during our audience with Her Majesty in London in October last year.
So, to celebrate this marvellous occasion, please join me in a toast, made with wholehearted congratulations, and the deepest of admiration, affection, respect and gratitude: Her Majesty the Queen!