Wednesday, 08 June 2022
Reception to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee
I am sure, known as you are one to another, you have discerned that the unifying factor in this evening’s guest list is that you represent organisations that are “Royal”, or “Commonwealth”, or have royal antecedents or connections.
There can thus be few people more appropriate than you to be here this evening and Rod and I warmly welcome you to Government House to mark the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Australia, Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth and Queen of South Australia.
It is a great honour to host this reception as Her Majesty’s Representative in South Australia to celebrate such a magnificent milestone.
As I look around the room, I note too that most of us here have lived our whole lives with Queen Elizabeth as our sovereign.
When we look back over the past 70 years, we can reflect that Her Majesty’s reign has unfolded against a backdrop of immense global change; societal and political upheaval; technological advances; conflict between nations; economic fluctuations alongside prosperity; and most recently a world-wide pandemic.
Throughout, Her Majesty has been an enduring symbol of stability, strength and hope.
It is unlikely that such an historic reign will ever be surpassed.
Born of the generation whose lives, stoicism, and sense of duty were shaped by the Second World War, at 96 years of age, we can only marvel at Her Majesty’s continued dedication to duty despite recent, inevitable health challenges and having devolved some responsibilities to the next generation of Royals.
Our hearts go out to Her Majesty knowing that she was without His Royal Highness, Prince Phillip – her strength and stay – by her side for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations on the weekend, although I am sure he was in many people’s thoughts and was there in spirit amongst the Royal Family.
As British and Australian diplomats, respectively, Rod and I had the immense privilege of meeting Her Majesty on several occasions – at Diplomatic Receptions and Royal Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace and at a celebration of the Centenary of Australia House.
We had the honour to be present at Trooping the Colour, the Whitehall Remembrance Day commemoration, Royal Ascot, a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, services at Westminster Abbey and the State Opening of Parliament.
Each time I was struck by Her Majesty’s grace, her naturalness and her ability to engage people from all walks of life through her warmth and genuine interest in individuals.
On an occasion such as this, it is important to put the longevity of the Queen’s reign in perspective:
Her Majesty has been monarch for more than a third of South Australia’s almost 186-year post-settlement history.
During that time there have been 17 Australian and 15 British Prime Ministers and 13 Governors and 16 Premiers of South Australia.
Let us not forget that as well as her leadership role, the Queen has also been a wife, and is a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
In these roles, like many, she has experienced both joy and sadness, but her enduring grace and dignity remind us of the importance of family and community.
Her Majesty has always displayed great warmth and affection for the Australian people through her messages of hope and sympathy inspiring us in times of need such as floods, bushfires and crisis.
And many would remember fondly the packed streets and outpouring of pride and affection during her seven visits to South Australia, including the thousands of school children at Wayville Showgrounds welcoming her in 1954 during her first visit.
On her 21st birthday, contemplating the magnitude of the task ahead, the young Princess Elizabeth in a radio broadcast from South Africa during a Royal Tour with her sister and parents made a solemn vow.
She declared, and I quote: …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.”
Here at Government House, in 2020, but with an eye to the Jubilee, we welcomed the installation of only the third statue of Her Majesty in Australia, and the only contemporary representation, in the grounds of Government House, thanks to the generosity of private donors.
In practical commemoration of the Jubilee proper, we have been delighted over the last several nights to feature a sound and light show highlighting Her Majesty’s visits to South Australia; and last Sunday, despite the inclement weather, to welcome some 1400 people to Government House for a special Open House featuring memorabilia from those visits.
Next Sunday, I will read the epistle at a Choral Eucharist to celebrate Her Majesty’s birthday.
Tonight, however, I am delighted to announce that we will make a permanent acknowledgement of our gratitude for Her Majesty’s seven visits to South Australia.
Those of you who know the Morning Room here at Government House will know its wonderful light‑filled eastern and southern aspect over the lawns.
The room was used by Her Majesty during her 1954 and 2002 visits. On the latter occasion, her visit to Australia only encompassed Adelaide, and Brisbane to open the Commonwealth Game.
As such, most of her official calls during that visit, including receiving the Governor‑General and the Prime Minister, took place in the Morning Room.
Her Majesty fondly recalled this room to my predecessor the Honourable Hieu Van Le during his audience with her in 2016, a remembrance which informed the placement of her statue outside the room in 2020.
I am pleased now to be able to say that, after consultation with the Palace, the Morning Room will henceforth be known as the Queen Elizabeth II Room.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On the occasion of Her Majesty’s official Birthday and Platinum Jubilee, I am sure you join with me in giving our heartfelt thanks for her long life, and in tendering our warmest assurances that she has more than fulfilled her promise of outstanding service and unwavering dedication.
I now ask you to charge your glasses and join me in the Loyal Toast:
To Her Majesty the Queen, and the people of South Australia.
Please enjoy the evening.