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Queen Elizabeth admirers shed tears at special St George’s Anglican Cathedral service

Hundreds of West Australians have paid their respects to Queen Elizabeth II — some shedding tears — at the Perth cathedral where Her Majesty first visited in 1954 in the early days of her 70-year reign.

The special service of commemoration at St George’s Cathedral was attended by about 600 people including dignitaries such as WA Governor Chris Dawson, who described how some of the thousands who had signed the condolence book at Government House had “openly wept”.

“We offer humble thanks as her subjects,” Mr Dawson told the service.

“Grant her eternal rest befitting a life well lived.”

Special Service of Commemoration marking the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second at St George’s Cathedral this morning. Governor, Chris Dawson Ian Munro
Camera IconSpecial Service of Commemoration marking the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second at St George’s Cathedral this morning. Governor, Chris Dawson Ian Munro Credit: Ian Munro/The West Australian

Anglican Archbishop of Perth, Kay Goldsworthy, said the Queen was “somehow present to us all”.

“She has been the backdrop to all our lives,” Archbishop Goldsworthy said.

Among the attendees was the Queen’s former private secretary Sir William Heseltine, who has now settled back in Perth and kept in correspondence with the late monarch.

For the first time at the cathedral, the royal anthem was sung with the new words “God save the King” before a lone piper played as the dignitaries departed, honouring the fact that Her Majesty was awoken every morning by the sound of bagpipes.

Special Service of Commemoration marking the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at St George’s Cathedral.
Camera IconSpecial Service of Commemoration marking the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at St George’s Cathedral. Credit: Ian Munro/The West Australian

Outside, Nedlands resident Stephanie Goodlad tearfully spoke of her admiration for the monarch who “normalised women in power”.

“My grandmother is English so we have that link but I just think that, because I’m such a feminist, seeing the Queen often be the only woman at global events was so important,” the 31-year-old said.

“Her soft power, just by being there.

“And her sacrifices for all of us — she worked so hard, up until two days before she died.

“I think she is just the most stylish leader the world has ever had.”

Sir William Heseltine, the private secretary to Her Late Majesty The Queen from 1986 to 1990, gave a reading from the Revelation to John.
Camera IconSir William Heseltine, the private secretary to Her Late Majesty The Queen from 1986 to 1990, gave a reading from the Revelation to John. Credit: Ian Munro/The West Australian

England-born Cat Slack of Shenton Park was also emotional, saying coming to the service gave her an opportunity to pay respect to a tremendous woman and made her feel closer to the country where half of her family lived.

“Seeing flags at half mast is a very powerful symbol and does bring a little bit of comfort,” Ms Slack said.

The 34-year-old expressed concerns about the renewed republican push, suggesting such a “drastic” change was premature and potentially destabilising for a nation still wrestling with its identity in many ways, including debating an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

“I’ve heard a lot of people saying they want an Australian head of state . . . they don’t understand the role of the sovereign.

“King Charles does not have an unblemished past like the Queen but if people give him a chance, he might be a great monarch.”

Ms Goodlad said now was not the time for the republican debate but added: “Ask me in a year”.

“I do believe we will be a republic in my lifetime,” she predicted.

Special Service of Commemoration marking the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second at St George’s Cathedral this morning. Ian Munro
Camera IconSpecial Service of Commemoration marking the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second at St George’s Cathedral this morning. Ian Munro Credit: Ian Munro/The West Australian

English dad Jonathan Humphreys of Beeliar cuddled his black-clad seven-year-old daughter Ally as she absorbed the sombre occasion and wind swept up the terrace.

“We thought we’d bring her along and show our respect,” he said.

“It’s just nice for her to understand the history and her ancestors.”

English woman and CBD resident Maureen Jackson said she attended because her mother would have expected it.

“She was very royalist. And never forget your heritage.”

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