Afternoon Reception in Honour of the Official Birthday of Her Majesty The Queen
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 to celebrate the official birthday of the Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second.
We are especially grateful so many students, Scouts, Guides and Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade members could join us.
This year is a rather more sombre celebration than those of previous years. But it has been a gauge of the immense affection in which The Queen is held that throughout this difficult year, messages of support following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh poured in from all corners of the globe – including here in Queensland.
When Queen Elizabeth addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2010, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said that in “a churning and changing world” she was “an anchor for our age”.
This has never been more evident than over the past year.
As COVID-19 ravaged a frightened world, The Queen took to the airways – this time through the medium of television and YouTube – to deliver a message of hope and reassurance to people around the world, especially those in the Commonwealth.
Here in Australia, we have long considered the relationship between our Queen and ourselves to exhibit a special bond.
When the young Princess Elizabeth was told in Kenya of the death of her father and that she was to be Queen, she was actually en route to Australia.
Two years later, the now Queen Elizabeth continued her interrupted voyage.
It is estimated that three quarters of the Australian population were able to see the Royal couple in 1954. I vividly remember, myself, being taken as a young boy to wave at The Queen in Bundaberg.
It was on that first tour that the young Queen and her husband stayed for several days here at Government House.
If you are ever in the State Library of Queensland, you may care to take time to leaf through the Lavarack Family Album. At the end of the album you will find a personal account of that Royal Visit, written by Lady Lavarack, the wife of our 16th Governor.
The Queen was delighted with the hospitality of the ‘People’s House’ on that 1954 visit, and the Royal couple was described as “charming and easy in every way".
Government House also invited noted Queensland naturalist David Fleay, to showcase to the Royal couple two very special Australian animals, Penny the playtpus and Winkie the wombat – and The Queen was evidently very taken by that!
That took place just outside on the Eastern Balcony above the Rose Garden, where the Royal Australian Navy Jazz Group Band Brisbane is today entertaining us from, with of course the approbation of Commander Phillipa Hay of HMAS Moreton who is with us.
Kaye and I have been granted an audience with Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace on three occasions since I was appointed Governor in 2014 – an immense honour for us and the people of Queensland.
We can attest that Her Majesty is as gracious and remarkable in person, as she is in public.
And so, as Her Majesty’s 11th personal representative since her accession in 1952, and Queensland’s 26th Governor since 1859, I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, to join me in raising a toast, with immense respect and affection, to our faithful Head of State, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Australia.