Australia bids a quiet farewell to a servant leader

“In considering the unifying role her majesty played, I acknowledge that her passing has prompted different reactions for some in our community,” he said.

“I’m conscious and respect that the response of many First Nations Australians is shaped by our colonial history and broader reconciliation journey. That is a journey we must complete.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese addresses the Queen’s memorial service in Canberra on Thursday. Alex Ellinghausen

Some construed the reference as subtle support for the proposed Voice to parliament.

Mr Albanese urged those wishing to commemorate the Queen not to erect more monuments, plaques or “marble statues”, but to go for “a renewed embrace of service to community”.

“A truer understanding of our duty to others. A stronger commitment to respect for all,” he said. “This would be a most fitting memorial, to a magnificent life.”

General Hurley said the Queen’s “servant leadership, and particularly in this age of extreme individualism, set an example of living and serving for something greater than herself”.

“She set an example of servant leadership in the exercise of her influence. In an era where trust in institutions is declining, Queen Elizabeth evolved, adapted and changed within her role as monarch.”

Queen ‘set a tone for our progress and change’

In the post-Elizabethan era, where debate about a republic will inevitably be rekindled, the governor-general said the Queen would remain relevant.

“Her majesty shared in Australia’s growth and change during her reign. She respected the will of the Australian people. She understood that we are our own people and that we control our destiny,” he said.

“Her majesty, through her influence, her decency and devotion to others has set a tone for our progress and change. That example, of bringing people together with empathy and respect, is one that can guide us into the future.

“Noting all that changed during the Queen’s 70-year reign and all that will change in Australia in the next 70 years, there is a timeless quality that we can draw from her majesty.”

Mr Albanese, too, suggested the Queen’s qualities would underpin the nation, wherever it went next.

“In all things – including our advance to reconciliation – the Queen always wanted the best for our country,” he said.

“She greeted every evolution in our relationship with Britain with good grace and an abiding faith in the judgment of the Australian people.

“And so, amidst the noise and turbulence of the decades, the Queen endured – and so did Australia’s affection for her, our sense of connection to her.

“Indeed, I believe those two truths run together: our affection held strong because she did.”

He also noted that when the Queen first visited Australia, 7 million people – 70 per cent of the population at the time – turned out to welcome her.

Outside parliament on Thursday, just over 200 members of the public showed up to watch the service on the big screen.

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