Official Dinner Honouring Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
Premier of Queensland & Minister for the Olympics, The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk MP and Dr Reza Adib; Representing The Honourable Chief Justice Helen Bowskill, the Honourable Justice John Bond and Ms Rowena McNally; Representing the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Member for Kawana, The Honourable Mr Jarrod Bleijie MP; The Lord Mayor of Brisbane, The Right Honourable Councillor Adrian Schrinner and Lady Mayoress Nina Schrinner; Archbishop of Brisbane, Anglican Church of Australia, His Grace the Most Reverend Dr Phillip Aspinall AC and Dr Christa Aspinall; Queenslander of the Year, Senior Queenslander of the Year and Queensland Young Australian of the Year, Queensland 2022 Local Hero; Distinguished Guests, welcome.
I begin by acknowledging the original custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and extend respectful greetings to Elders, past, present, and emerging.
Graeme and I warmly welcome you to the magnificent dining room at Government House, as we honour the remarkable 70-year reign of our monarch and Queensland’s Head of State, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second.
While the young Princess Elizabeth’s destiny to become Queen was determined by lineage and circumstances, her deep sense of duty, her genuine compassion, and her connection with her people are qualities unique to her sovereignty.
On the evening following her coronation, the new Queen made a radio broadcast stating, “Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust”.
This youthful pledge has been the hallmark of Her Majesty’s long and inspiring reign, and, because she has never once wavered in her support for those she serves, she has garnered immense and justified respect and adoration.
This evening’s Platinum Jubilee dinner is just one of many celebrations taking place throughout the Commonwealth, but the dedicated staff at Queensland Government House has excelled—even more than usual—in planning this particular event, as it is based on the original menu served to Her Majesty and The Duke of Edinburgh when they were the guests of Sir John and Lady Sybil Lavarack at the official dinner party held in this room on the 17th of March 1954.
This first, historic royal visit to Queensland not only prompted major adjustments to the Fernberg Estate itself, but the planning, protocols and logistics around the stay and tour could—and in fact did—fill a book, which is now housed in the State Archives.
To ensure the best possible cuisine, a French chef—Alfred Danilo—was tracked down and flown in from the Hotel Cunnamulla in Western Queensland to work his culinary magic in the kitchen, alongside head cook, Glaswegian Mrs Shepherd, who had only been at Fernberg for a few months.
According to Lady Lavarack, intelligence suggested that the Queen “was very impatient with long formal dinners and many courses” and for this reason, only three-course dinners were served during her stay.
A month before the official event, a practice dinner for 32 guests was held, which was fortunate, because the trial was “not altogether successful”—the food was referred to as “hotel meals”, the portions were “too large”, and the service was considered well under par.
Ultimately, and no doubt with great relief, the catering was “a tremendous success”, with the Queen herself saying “I wish the Press could see me downing everything that's put before me - they always write me up as daintily picking my food and with little appetite."
I am sure tonight’s dinner will be received just as well, with our amazing Head Chef, Paul Newsham, giving the original 1954 menu a modern twist, using seasonal Queensland produce, and not a minted pea in sight!
Almost 70 years have passed since that first royal visit, but during her subsequent seven visits to Queensland, and at all times in between, the Queen has been a reassuring voice of comfort in times of difficulty, and a committed champion of our achievements.
On the global stage, Her Majesty has made incredible contributions to ensuring stability during times of significant social change, performing official duties with her famed dignity and grace.
She has seen world leaders come and go—from Winston Churchill to Boris Johnson, from Robert Menzies to Anthony Albanese. She has travelled more widely than any other Monarch, and has faithfully served the public through links to over 500 patronage organisations.
Her image has graced 200 official portraits and the coins of 35 countries, and she has owned more than 30 Corgis and Dorgis during her reign.
Now at 96, the Queen has seen the world through a myriad of triumphs, and tragedies, has stayed ever true to tradition, yet has enthusiastically embraced change.
She is a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, devoted to her family and to her Commonwealth.
Back in 1954, Lady Lavarack described her as “witty, vivacious, sparkling and full of fun”, but also as “serious, thoughtful and dignified”, with “the gift of a quick and right thinking brain”.
I am sure that, despite her advanced years, the Queen has changed little since those words were written.
Her Majesty remains an inspirational leader and this evening we honour her Platinum Jubilee with the deepest admiration and gratitude.