Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will invoke Labor royalty Bob Hawke – and the deep love of horse racing he shared with Queen Elizabeth II – when paying tribute to Her Majesty at a commemorative luncheon being held in London on Sunday.
In an address to be delivered the day before the Queen’s state funeral, Mr Albanese will recount the story of the Her Majesty and Mr Hawke taking in a thoroughbred race in Canberra in 1988 – which came during one of her 16 visits to Australia.
“Along the way, (Queen Elizabeth) had one of the most Australian experiences of all – sitting next to Bob Hawke at the races when his horse was winning,” Mr Albanese will tell the Australia House Commemorative Luncheon.
“The photograph of these two connoisseurs of the turf in that moment is a perfect study in balance – the Queen sitting serenely, Bob going off like a firecracker in a suit.
“Bob was criticised, but as he later reflected: ‘I took great pleasure a little later in pointing to an image of the Queen showing similar exultation when one of her horses won in England.’”
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Mr Albanese also plans to quote the Queen herself, throwing back to another of her visits in 2000 ahead of the Sydney Olympics.
Speaking outside the Sydney Opera House, the Queen said that ever since first stepping ashore in Australia she had “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,” she continued.
Mr Albanese will say those words “get to the heart” of the late Queen’s feelings about Australia.
“Even as history continued to shape us, and the bond between our two nations evolved, the affection and respect in which we held Her Majesty remained – unchanged, undiminished,” he will say.
“The Queen transcended barriers. You could be a republican, and still feel nothing but regard for her.
“She celebrated our good times, and stood with us in our times of trial, bringing sympathy and comfort when it was so badly needed.
“From (her) very first visit, the Queen had a special place in the hearts of Australians. She always will.”
Mr Albanese last night met with British counterpart Liz Truss, the first meeting between the pair since she replaced Boris Johnson as Prime Minister earlier this month.
He was also expected to meet King Charles III – becoming the first Australian Prime Minister to greet an incoming British monarch since Robert Menzies visited the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II in May 1952.
The new King was planning to host the Prime Ministers of all Commonwealth Realms at Buckingham Palace.
Earlier in the day, Mr Albanese visited Westminster Hall, where the Queen is lying-in-state ahead of her funeral, before signing the Condolence Book at nearby Lancaster House.
In his first public act after arriving in London alongside Governor General David Hurley, Mr Albanese and partner Jodie Haydon placed flowers near an Australian flag in Green Park.
The pair were surrounded by hundreds of other mourners still grieving the Queen’s death.
“It’s a great honour to be representing Australia here,” Mr Albanese said.
“Quite clearly, what we can see all around us is the affection in which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth was held by people here in the United Kingdom, but also of course in Australia and right around the Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth gave a life of service.
“It was a life of dignity. It’s a life that brought great respect from the world’s citizens, but in particular Australia. It has been an honour to leave a tribute for Queen Elizabeth here.”
The Prime Minister told reporters he planned to pass on the country’s sincere condolences to the new King.
“This is of course the loss of the Monarch for Commonwealth nations that have had Queen Elizabeth as our Head of State,” Mr Albanese said.
“But for him it’s the loss of his mother as well, coming so soon after the loss of his father … so there is a very personal dimension.”
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