The Queen arrives
Written by ACM   
Thursday, 20 October 2011
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were welcomed warmly on their 16th return to Australia in Canberra on 19 October. Reporting across the media reflected this. The national television networks included the arrival live into their main news broadcasts in those parts of the country which are on eastern summertime.

[ The queen arrives - photo; Alex Coppel, News Limited )

Everywhere comment was enthusiastic and welcoming although the republican movement referred to the inappropriateness of the English German family performing formal functions in the country.

The media, much of it still inclined to republicanism but of a gentle and inevitable kind, reported the event warmly.

Typical was that of Jamie Walker (with additional reporting by Christian Kerr) in The Australian, 20/10 (“Curtseys and a courteous nod by the PM: Aussies turn on welcome fit for a Queen”) THEY turned on the pomp and ceremony, with the military band, the straight-backed guard of honour and the royal representative at Yarralumla, Quentin Bryce, all doing their bit as the Queen yesterday set foot on Australian soil for the first time in five years - and possibly the last.

The genuine warmth of the welcome for the 85-year-old monarch and Prince Philip, 90, set off a picture-perfect spring evening in Canberra, and brought a smile to the face of the Queen.

"You're beautiful," someone shouted from the big and happy crowd, packed with local schoolchildren who got the afternoon off class to see her. She nodded graciously in response.For all the talk that she had been under the weather with a heavy cold back home in autumnal London, the Queen looked remarkably fresh after the long flight.

She stepped out of the chartered British Airways plane at 6.07pm wearing an aqua three-quarter-length coat and matching hat. As she carefully negotiated the aircraft stairs, her gloved hand on the rail, Prince Philip hovered a measured step behind her. The Governor-General did the honours, curtsying daintily.

To bend the knee or not was the topic du jour in Canberra and Ms Bryce, resplendent in scarlet, made her quick bob of a curtsy look so natural you had to wonder what all the fuss was about.Julia Gillard, on hand to welcome the royals, still would not come at it. The Prime Minister dipped her head and leaned into the Queen ever so slightly to shake her hand.

First bloke Tim Mathieson chatted with the first chap, the Duke of Edinburgh.ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, who took protocol advice on how to greet the Queen before joining the official welcoming party, said the curtsy was a personal choice for women ushered into the regal presence.

She admitted she had trialled a few curtsies ahead of her big moment last night, but, like Ms Gillard, opted for the minimalist bow."Our advice was that curtsying to the Queen is appropriate if you think it's appropriate," Ms Gallagher's spokeswoman said.

To the delight of the crowd, the Queen made the day of dozens of children as she collected flowers from the lucky ones bussed into RAAF Fairbairn to take part in the official welcome. Among them was 10-year-old Zoe Parker, of Curtin, who waited patiently to present a bunch of bush roses to the monarch.

...our leader...

"She's our leader . . . she's great," the little girl said.Clutching an Australian flag, Lauren Nguyen, 12, of Waramanga, said she was happy to wait all night to see the Queen in person. "I am just so excited she is here," she said.Prince Philip was in fine form when he stopped to talk to Charlie Barnes, 12, and three of his friends.

The Prince wanted to know whether they had got the afternoon off school. "Yes," the boy replied."How long until the end of term?" Philip asked.Charlie: "Ten weeks.""Will you be able to stand it?" Charlie: "Just."

This is the couple's 16th state visit since the Queen's coronation in 1953. Concern that distance and those relentlessly advancing years will preclude another 20-hour-plus flight have invested the 11-day tour with special significance.

Buckingham Palace says this may be the Queen's last trip to Australia. She will spend four days in Canberra and visit Brisbane and Melbourne before attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth.

Then again, it may not be.

As a royal aide noted: "Although media may be speculating that this may be the last visit by the Queen to Australia, media also said this during HM's visits in 2000, 2002 and 2006. Buckingham Palace has not stated that this will be the last visit."

Research by the Roy Morgan group, released on the eve of the tour, shows that support for the monarchy has surged, with only 34 per cent of Australians in favour of cutting ties. More than 55 per cent wanted to keep the monarchy, the highest proportion for two decades.

They won't get any argument from Evelyn Everson, 45, who was hoping her 12-year-old, Katja, would get the Queen's attention."I just think it's such a special occasion," Ms Everson said. "The Queen's come all this way and it would be a privilege to meet her."

The royal couple will attend the Floriade garden festival today.