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Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday Trooping of the Colour Parade, Royal Military College–Duntroon


This is Ngunnawal Country. Today we are all meeting together on this Ngunnawal Country. We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Elders.

Good morning.

Today is a historic and auspicious day.

Historic for what it represents for us as a nation as we celebrate Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee.

And, auspicious, for what it means for each of you as you progress your military career.

I can remember standing where you are, 50 years ago.

I was 18 years of age.

My fellow cadets and I were conscious – only because our instructors had gently reminded us – that we were Trooping the Colour on the occasion of Her Majesty’s emerald, or 20-year jubilee.

I had family in the crowd.

I also, perhaps, had a mind to the rugby and festivities to follow.

My understanding of Her Majesty was that she was a distant ‘someone’ to respect because of rank and position.

Let me share a few insights, if I may, of what I have learnt over the last 50 years and what I believe Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee Celebration means for us today.

Each of you on parade has made either an Oath or Affirmation on enlistment.

That you would 'well and truly serve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Second, Her Heirs and Successors according to law …'

And that you would 'Resist her enemies, and faithfully discharge your duty according to law.'

You could spend a lifetime searching and find no better example to follow than the person you swore or affirmed to serve – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second.

For the 70 years of her reign, Her Majesty has lived up to her words on her 21st birthday:

'I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.'

She has been devoted.

She has been committed.

She has been present, compassionate and mindful.

As you remember your Oath or Affirmation, I suggest that you also aspire to these values and characteristics. 

Remember her example and her message to you:

'These colours, which are consecrated as a reminder to you that you must always do your duty as Christians, are also the symbols of your allegiance and the emblems of past achievement. The gallantry and devotion to duty of those who have gone before you are enshrined in them: may they inspire you to emulate their high standards and to surpass them.'

In reflecting on your Oath or Affirmation, I would also share some observations on the Australia and the Australians that you have chosen to serve.

We are a rich nation. By that, I mean we are rich in spirit. We embody those characteristics that Her Majesty exemplifies.

Time and time again, in our travels around Australia, Linda and I have observed people who are gritty and determined, who look out for each other, and who, regardless of the challenge of the moment, have an eye for the future.

If you think about someone you know who embodies those values and characteristics – devotion to service, commitment and determination – I would wager that that person is someone you admire and respect.

Linda and I see people like that in the good times and the bad. When people are at their best and when they are challenged.

We see it so often that I know it isn’t a coincidence – it is real and it is who we are.

It is who you have sworn to protect. You should be proud to do so.

The Australians you serve should make you optimistic for the future.

And it should give you, as you embark on your career in uniform, enormous faith in your undertaking.

Serving in the Australian Army was the greatest privilege of my lifetime.

I am proud to have worn this uniform … proud to have served alongside soldiers, sailors and aviators … proud to have served Australia and her Queen.