Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday Gala Dinner The Victoria League for Commonwealth Friendship in Queensland and The Order of Australia Association, Queensland Branch
Thank you, Professor Harden, for your kind introduction.
Distinguished guests. Thank you for your warm welcome. Kaye and I are delighted that we join tonight to celebrate the official birthday of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, the Queen of Australia. It is a singular honour for me to serve as Her Majesty’s representative here in Queensland, and for the time being, as Administrator of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia. Sir Peter is currently overseas, representing Australia, with Lady Cosgrove, at Her Majesty’s ninetieth birthday celebrations in London.
And if I look a little tired, it may be because Kaye and I – following a tremendous tribute to Tim Fairfax at QAGOMA on Saturday night – were absolutely impelled then returning to Government House to watch the ‘Trooping of the Colour’ to its very end. How wonderful to be Australians imbued with those great traditions.
Last September, Kaye and I, were privileged to host a reception to mark Her Majesty’s becoming the longest-reigning British Monarch, and, in April this year, we celebrated Her Majesty’s ninetieth birthday. However, the celebrations have not stopped there – just ten days ago Government House became the custodian of a wonderful, life-size bronze statue of the Queen, one of only two such statues in Australia.
Through a stroke of great good fortune, the development of the new Queen’s Wharf precinct produced a unique opportunity for us to offer a new home for John Stuart Dowie’s marvellous nineteen eighty-four statue. We were very excited Dr Dowie’s niece could join us for the relocation ceremony. It was plainly moving for her, as for us – other aspects aside, Kaye and I attended the original unveiling, by my predecessor Governor, Sir Walter Campbell, in 1985.
Those of you who are familiar with this bronze from its thirty years in Queen’s Place, near Parliament House, will know that this is not a static, formal sculpture:
head held high, our Queen steps out confidently in a beautiful evening gown. She is the epitome of royalty, from her favourite Kokoshnik tiara to those practical pumps with their two-inch heels, and every detail is there, right down to her decorations, her jewellery, her trademark hand-sewn gloves – even an evening purse.
It is an ideal addition to the grounds of Fernberg and now regally welcomes all visitors to the estate, and those who pass by along Fernberg Road, providing a permanent reminder of the enduring affection and high regard with which Her Majesty is held by Queenslanders. I am extremely proud that this statue should have come to Government House in my term.
The relocation of the statue to Fernberg also importantly reminds us of the crucial role of the Crown in our constitutional framework, and acts as a symbol of duty and dignity.
And those aspects of this Office were conspicuously on display on Kaye’s and my travel on Wednesday of last week from Emerald to Longreach in the Vice-Regal and heritage carriages, augmenting the ‘Spirit of the Outback’. While I am but The Queen’s humble representative, if ever one sought confirmation of support for the vice-regal office, and thereby of our Head of State, there it was in spades.
As tonight, also, Administrator of the Commonwealth, I warmly congratulate our two host organisations, the Victoria League and the Order of Australia Association, on organising this splendid event.
I also thank the many other organisations represented here tonight for supporting it – and hope that you will all take the opportunity, on a future visit to Government House, to share a moment with our gracious Queen and reflect on how fortunate we are to have Her Majesty as an inspiring exemplar of dedication and service.