Four Pacific Commonwealth leaders to join Australian PM at Queen’s funeral
Four leaders of Pacific Commonwealth nations will join the Australian prime minister at the Queen’s state funeral.
Anthony Albanese told a press conference shortly before midday (3am BST) on Wednesday that the respective leaders of the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Samoa and Papua New Guinea have accepted Australia’s offer of help with transportation to London.
The delegation which is due to leave Thursday evening will also include governor-general David Hurley as well as ten Australian citizens “who have made extraordinary contributions to their communities”.
The state funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey at 11am next Monday and members of the royal family, senior UK politicians and heads of state from across the world are expected to attend.
Earlier on Wednesday, the country’s national cabinet said that when Australia observes a one-off bank holiday to mark the Queen’s death on September 22, a National Memorial Service will be held at Parliament House in Canberra with all state and territory leaders in attendance.
The service will be broadcast live across the nation at 11am (AEST) and begin with a minute’s silence.
“National Cabinet encourages all Australians, wherever you may be, to take time to pause and reflect on The Queen’s faithful service, that will be remembered for centuries to come,” it said in a statement.
“The Queen was the only reigning monarch most Australians have known and the only reigning monarch to ever visit Australia. On her first visit in 1954, the Queen travelled around the country, to almost 60 cities and towns, in every state and territory.
“It was clear from her first trip that she had a special place in the hearts of Australians. The National Day of Mourning will provide time to grieve this collective loss and commemorate our late Queen’s extraordinary life of service, devotion and loyalty.”
Also on Wednesday, the PM was joined by the New South Wales premier Dom Perrottet in opening a new park in Sydney in the late Queen’s honour.
“Queen Elizabeth II Park in Sydney will be a place for people to come together,” Mr Albanese wrote on Twitter. “I announced plans to create a new open space off Macquarie Street commemorating the Queen – a public plaza to be enjoyed by Australians for many years to come.”
The Australian PM earlier revealed that Buckingham Palace had extended the invitation to 10 Australians for their “extraordinary contributions to their communities”.
They include this year’s Australian of the Year, Dylan Alcott, senior Australians of the Year from this year and last, Valmai Dempsey and Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann, local heroes Shanna Whan, Saba Abraham and Kim Smith, Western Australian of the Year Helen Milroy, South Australian young Australian of the Year Trudy Lin, i4give day founder Danny Abdallah and the Australian Racing Hall of Fame’s Chris Waller.
For each one of them, Mr Albanese wrote a bit “more about who they are” on Twitter.
He said the horses trained by Mr Waller “include the record-breaking Winx as well as Chalk Stream, a UK-born thoroughbred owned by Queen Elizabeth herself”.
Professor Milroy was “Australia’s first indigenous doctor”, while Mr Alcott is “the first male in history to win the Golden Slam”.
In May, the Queen held a Zoom call with the Australians of the Year to commend them on their “marvellous work”.
During the call with the six award recipients, who included Mr Alcott, the monarch remarked on the “splendid” technology which enabled the virtual meeting to take place.
Wednesday also saw New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern departing for the UK for the Queen’s funeral with a delegation of compatriots “from different walks of life”, including the Maori king, Kiingi Tuheitia, former governor-general Dame Silvia Cartwright, Victoria Cross for New Zealand recipient Bill Apiata and former secretary-general of the Commonwealth Sir Don McKinnon.
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