Anthony Albanese has paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, saying she has been a good friend of Australia, as Platinum Jubilee commemorations begin.
In a speech marking the Queen’s 70-year reign, the prime minister said the monarch was a show of stability throughout her many decades on the throne.
“The Queen has been a rare constant, an enduring, inspiring, growing presence of calm, decency and strength,” he said at a ceremony in Canberra on Thursday night.
“Australians hold Queen Elizabeth in respect and affection, even as the bond between our nations is no longer what it was at the dawn of her reign.
“No longer parent and young upstart. We stand as equals, more importantly, we stand as friends.”
Mr Albanese then lit a beacon as part of the Jubilee, one of 1500 being lit across the Commonwealth in honour of the celebrations.
Canberra’s Aspen Island on Lake Burley Griffin will be officially renamed in honour of the Queen.
Landmarks across the country, including Parliament House and the Sydney Opera House will be lit up in royal purple to mark the Jubilee, which will be held over four days.
Mr Albanese gave his speech at the location where the Queen visited in 1963 on one of her many tours to Australia.
“Our capital city was a young city, and a young queen stood here, full of promise and full of purpose,” Mr Albanese said.
“As we mark this Jubilee, we can say that she fulfilled that purpose.
“Her Majesty has amply kept her promises. Hers continues to be a life of unswerving loyalty, unfailing dignity, grace under pressure, a warm welcome for every person she met.”
Governor-General David Hurley and his wife Linda will be in London representing Australians at celebrations over the weekend.
A contingent from Australia’s Federation Guard will also take part in the Platinum Jubilee Pageant on June 5.
The prime minister also used his speech to recount how his own birth was delayed due to one of the Queen’s visits to Australia.
“My mother insisted on seeing the tribute to Queen Elizabeth on her way to hospital,” he said.
“She insisted on going via the city to ensure that she saw all of the commemoration that was here at the time.”
Mr Albanese said Australia was just one of many nations celebrating the Queen’s reign.
“We’ve joined 53 other nations in celebrating our common heritage, celebrating a life of service, fidelity and humanity,” he said.
“We give tanks for Her Majesty’s long reign and send her our very warmest congratulations on this magnificent milestone.”