With the passing of Queen Elizabeth the Second, an historic reign and a long life devoted to duty, family, faith and service has come to an end.
This is a morning of sadness for the world, for the Commonwealth and all Australians.
It is a day of profound sadness and grief for the Royal Family who have lost a beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
The person who for so long was their greatest inner strength.
Australian hearts go out to the people of the United Kingdom who mourn today, knowing they will feel they have lost part of what makes their nation whole.
It is a time of mourning for the people in Britain, across the Commonwealth, and indeed around the world.
There is comfort to be found in Her Majesty’s own words: “Grief is the price we pay for love.”
This is a loss we feel deeply in Australia.
Queen Elizabeth II is the only reigning monarch most of us have known—and the only one to ever visit Australia.
And over the course of a remarkable seven decades, Her Majesty was a rare and reassuring constant amidst rapid change.
Through the noise and turbulence of the years, she embodied and exhibited a timeless decency and an enduring calm.
Her Majesty served our nation and the Commonwealth for 70 years.
She is the longest-reigning monarch in British history and, remarkably, the second longest‑reigning monarch of a sovereign state in world history.
Her life of faithful service will be remembered for centuries to come.
From the moment the young princess became Queen, Her Majesty’s dedication to duty and service over self were the hallmarks of her reign.
Performing her duty with fidelity, integrity, and respect for everyone she met.
We saw those qualities each time she visited our shores — and she graced us on 16 occasions during her reign, travelling to every state and territory across our vast continent.
Her first visit, with Philip, began on the 3rd of February 1954 — just eight months after her coronation.
It was the biggest single event ever organised in Australia and it remains a defining moment in our nation’s history.
Some 7 million Australians — or 70 per cent of our population at the time — turned out to catch a glimpse of the young Queen passing by.
Queen Elizabeth II was a wise and enduring presence in our national life.
Sixteen prime ministers consulted with her – and sixteen governors-general served in her name.
Throughout her reign, Queen Elizabeth II showed a deep affection for our country.
As she said at the Sydney Opera House in the year 2000:
“[S]ince I first stepped ashore here […] I have felt part of this rugged, honest, creative land. I have shared in the joys and the sorrows, the challenges and the changes that have shaped this country’s history.
Her Majesty celebrated our good times, and she stood with us during trials and hardships.
Happy and glorious, but steadfast too.
In particular, we recall the sympathy and personal kindness she extended to Australians afflicted by tragedy and disaster — from floods and bushfires to wars and a pandemic.
Her words and presence were a source of comfort, hope and solace for millions of Australians.
Queen Elizabeth II has been a wise and encouraging guide, always wanting the best for our nation and greeting each change with understanding, good grace and an abiding faith in the Australian people’s judgement.
From her first trip here, it was clear Her Majesty had a special place in our hearts.
And we, in hers.
In the coming days, the Governor-General and I will be heading to London where we will meet The King.
We will convey the sorrow of Australians as well as our best wishes to him, and the Queen Consort, as he takes on his duties as Sovereign.
Over the next 48 hours, more details will be shared about the arrangements for The Queen’s funeral and memorial.
Today marks the end of an era, the close of the second Elizabethan age.
This time of mourning will pass, but the deep respect and warm regard in which Australians have always held Her Majesty will never fade.
May she rest in eternal peace.