Her Majesty The Queen, 1926 – 2022. Leave a condolence message and read more about her deep connection to Australia.
BEN FORDHAM, HOST: You’re listening to Ben Fordham on 2GB, and I believe we’re about to speak live to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. He’s on the line right now. Prime Minister, good morning to you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ben, on what is a very sad day for Australia, for the Commonwealth and indeed for the world.
FORDHAM: It’s hard to know where to start, but I think we should first of all just reflect on the character of Her Majesty the Queen, and the fact that she was there for so long through all of these momentous occasions in Britain and in the world. She was always there.
PRIME MINISTER: Ben, this period that we’ve lived through is the fastest changing period of the world in human history. And a constant, a reliable constant, like a ballast really, for the people of the UK and indeed for all of the Commonwealth has been the Queen’s presence. Her dedication to service and duty, the way that she conducted herself through every Prime Minister since Winston Churchill. And here of course, in Australia, every Prime Minister since Robert Menzies, so sixteen Prime Ministers, sixteen Governors-General have either served her or sought advice from her. And it’s been a remarkable life of service and duty, love for her family, love for her country, and a love indeed for Australia that she expressed on many occasions during her visits that of course began way back in 1954.
FORDHAM: Can you give us an idea of the sense of humour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, because she obviously focused on all of the formalities, but the moment they were out of the way, she found a way of connecting with people and she seemed to use humour.
PRIME MINISTER: She did Ben, I attended the first ever G20 meeting at Buckingham Palace. And you had the formal line-up to be greeted by the Queen and Prince Philip, and other members of the Royal Family. But then when the media left and the leadership of the world, Barak Obama, other world leaders who were present there, she was relaxed and engaged, and she could have a laugh with people. She was comfortable with heads of state, but she was also comfortable with ordinary people out there, the citizens. And that’s why the remarkable figure of 70% of our population at the time turned out physically to see her during that visit in 1954. 7 million Australians in a population of 10 million, just think about that. That’s quite extraordinary. My mother told me about her visit, and what a historic day it was and she kept a little booklet, I think it might have been a Women’s Weekly edition at this time. But I remember her having kept something from the first visit, a commemoration. And for so many Australians there’s such affection for her over such a long period of time, and her visits of course, were regular. And she will be sadly missed and the people of the United Kingdom, in particular of course today, will be mourning her loss.
FORDHAM: We are all mourning the loss this morning of the late Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest serving monarch has died at Balmoral at the age of 96, and we are talking to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Can you tell me Prime Minister when you’re planning on heading to London?
PRIME MINISTER: The protocols have been in place, of course, for some time for such a loss. We will be making announcements over the next 48 hours about when this occurs. I will be travelling with the Governor-General to London, it’s expected that it will be in four days’ time. And there are, of course, a range of commemorations that will occur, and will occur here of course as well, here in Australia. And we’ll be making announcements about that over the next 48 hours. I think this morning is really just a time to pay tribute and to mourn Her Majesty. And I’m sure that Australians who are waking up to this news, in spite of the fact that Her Majesty had lived such a long life, it still comes as a shock. It was as if she was going to always be there.
FORDHAM: And she won’t be surprised that Australians will also focus on some of those more amusing aspects of her personality. I remember a great story about a moment that she bumped into a couple of American tourists while she was going for a walk outside her home in Balmoral, and they didn’t recognise the Queen, and they said to her, have you ever met the Queen? And so she’s staring at these two American tourists thinking, ‘what am I going to say?’ And according to the staff member who was with her, she said, “No, I haven’t but he has.” And she pointed at the staff member, and the American tourist then said, “Oh, well, can we have a photo with him because he’s met the Queen?” So she then took the photograph of the American tourists with her offsider, who was one of her staff members. I mean, she just had a way of being able to make people laugh.
PRIME MINISTER: How good is that? And I wonder if they ever found out and saw a picture of Her Majesty and thought to themselves, hang on, that was the photographer.
FORDHAM: Thank you so much for coming on and paying tribute. It’s going to be a challenging day and weeks ahead, and it’ll be especially hard for those people who are family members related to Her Majesty, but thank you very much for coming on and speaking on behalf of Australia.
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much Ben.
Prime Minister of Australia