Order of St John Investiture and Presentation of Awards
Chairman, Reverend Peter Devenish-Meares and fellow Directors; President of the State Council, Dr Vlasis Efstathis; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I at once acknowledge the traditional owners of these lands, and extend respectful greetings to Elders and emerging leaders.
Kaye and I warmly welcome you to Government House.
Firstly, as Deputy Prior of the Order of St John in Queensland, I warmly congratulate today’s postulants.
The Order of St John into which you will shortly be formally admitted or promoted is a most noble organisation and your membership and participation is something of which you and your families should be proud.
In reflecting on the important function of the Order of St John, I am reminded of its origins as an Order of Chivalry.
Chivalry is a term which has many romantic notions in our modern context, but which also has a long historical context as well.
Over the years, the concept of what it meant to be chivalrous has expanded. Broadly speaking, loyalty, forbearance, generosity, truthfulness, resilience, honour, mercy and living in the Christian faith embody what it meant to be chivalrous.
Remember too that this concept of chivalry was formed in a time before codified law, when the impetus to act with honour was at the individual level rather than demanded by the social structures of the day.
So too was it a time of scarcity where consideration for others may have been difficult when one’s own needs were not being met.
Towards the end of the Middle Ages, the creation of new orders of chivalry waned, but the ideals espoused remained and were formed and re-formed in several ways.
I remind us of this history to put in the modern context the ongoing work of the Order of St John – a chivalric Order established in its current form in 1888 by Queen Victoria – that even today, still holds fast to many of these ideals.
One need only look to the mission of the Order “to prevent and relieve sickness and injury, and to act to enhance the health and well-being of people anywhere in the world" – and its contemporary and highly visible expression through the St John Ambulance – as evidence of the service to others being carried out by its members.
I hope those postulants today, as well as all members of the Order, remember these high ideals when carrying out their work and feel a sense of strength and history in their endeavours.
Thank you for all for your service through the Order. I very much look forward to meeting many of you throughout this morning tea.
And I am delighted to also mention, you will all be leaving with a special gift this morning – a courtesy copy of the latest Government House publication, ‘The Governors of Modern Queensland’, which I launched last month.
Finally, may I add how saddened we all were to learn of the death of the Duke of Edinburgh on Friday.
Prince Philip’s life was a model of selfless devotion to duty and service. He strongly encouraged practical measures to help the sick and the poor, readily embracing movements like the Order of St John.
He will be greatly missed as a contributor of the highest order, and in today’s context, for his steadfastly loyal support as consort to Her Majesty, who is also the Order’s Sovereign Head. Thank you.