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Address to the Nation on the passing of Her Majesty The Queen, Government House

Today we mourn the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Second.

The news of her passing, while we knew it to be inevitable, has still shocked, prompted reflection and an outpouring of affection.

What is clear is that even though her life has ended, her example to us all has not.

That example of selfless service, devotion to duty and compassion for others is both an enduring legacy and a gift to us all.

Her Majesty was also a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Our sympathies are with His Majesty and the Royal family.

When my phone rang at 1.38 [ACST] in Adelaide this morning, I had a sense it was news that I desperately did not want to hear.

Since then, millions of Australians — and indeed billions of people around the world — have been reflecting on Her Majesty’s remarkable reign.

In their reflections, many have recalled Her Majesty’s own words and the seemingly impossible standard she set for herself almost 70 years ago at her coronation when she said:

‘I have in sincerity pledged myself to your service, as so many of you are pledged to mine. Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.’ 

There can be no doubt that she met that commitment.

Others have recalled a meeting or the recollection of a family member from one of her 16 visits to Australia.

I remember my mother telling me about how she held me up as a baby as Her Majesty’s motorcade passed by in 1954.

Others have recalled a moment, an image or impression — perhaps one that showed Her Majesty’s warmth.

I will always treasure Linda’s and my last call with Her Majesty when we introduced the four Australians of the Year for 2022. She was warm, funny and sincere in her interest in their work and our country.

What I have observed from the reaction of Australians is that there is no single quote, or memory or moment that can define Her Majesty.

All are apt.

All are special.

They are both individual and, collectively, the memories of an entire nation.

Her Majesty had a special bond with Australia and admired our easy-going approach to life and sense of humour.  

Her visits and messages of support in good times and in difficult, sometimes tragic, times have been well received.

When Linda and I spoke with Her Majesty following the death of Prince Philip, the first thing she enquired about was the welfare of Australians, particularly Western Australians impacted by Tropical Cyclone Seroja.

She was mourning the death of her husband of 73 years yet her first question was to know how Australians in need were faring. 

The care and compassion was sincere.

Her Majesty shared in Australia’s growth and change during her reign. 

Throughout all of this, Her Majesty respected the will of the Australian people. She understood that we are our own people and that we control our destiny.

For many of us, Her Majesty’s presence in our lives provided a source of comfort and reassurance. 

She was a constant in our lives, a symbol of stability, inspiration and servant leadership.

We have respected her and we have loved her.

That love was evident in Australia and across the Commonwealth as we celebrated Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee.

At the National Service of Thanksgiving held at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in June, a passage from Philippians was read which concluded with these words:

‘If there is any excellence, and if there is anything of praise, think about these things.’

There was certainly excellence and much cause to praise in Her Majesty’s life.

She consistently demonstrated tireless and selfless service, devotion to duty and a compassion for others.

Those are values to which we should all aspire and hope to meet.

They are as relevant today as they were 70 years ago.

They will be as relevant in 70 years’ time as they are today.

That is her legacy and that is her enduring gift to us all.

I am proud to have lived in the Second Elizabethan age.

Her legacy will be profound.

History will remember few like Queen Elizabeth The Second.

We mourn her passing, we are grateful that we have witnessed, and benefited from, her remarkable life.

May she rest in peace.