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Australia is holding a National Day of Mourning on Sept. 22, 2022, to show respect for the passing of Queen Elizabeth. Her Majesty the Queen was an important figure in Australian history, and her death marks the end of an era.
The day will be a time to remember all that she did for Australia, including her work as head of the Commonwealth. Her death is also a reminder of the importance of family, and how even the longest reign can come to an end.
As Prime Minister Anthony Albanese asked, “As we pay tribute to her majesty, I encourage all Australians to reflect on her remarkable life of dedication and service with one minute’s silence at 11 am.”
On a practical level schools will be closed. Parents need to take note that they will reopen on Friday for the last day of term.
Public services like banks, libraries, and service centres will be closed. All government services will be closed too.
Public transport will operate a Sunday service.
Shops and restaurants will remain open but with restricted hours like on any other public holiday. Check online or in the local news to find out what is open.
Hospitals will be open but elective surgeries may be cancelled.
In Victoria, Friday is also a public holiday ahead of the AFL final. The Geelong Cats will take on the Sydney Swans as planned. It will be a great weekend in Melbourne for footie fans. The Grand Final Parade will be better than ever as Robbie Williams is headlining.
The relationship between Australia and the monarchy is complex and, for some, it seems unnecessary. The death of the Queen sparked a series of official events. Parliament has been suspended for a couple of weeks, and there have been ceremonies to mark the occasion as well as wreath laying. I am sure a referendum to keep King Charles as the head of state is on the cards, but for now, Australians can pause, remember, and reflect.
Queen Elizabeth visited Australia 16 times. She came in 1954, 1963, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1992, 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2011. She was the first reigning monarch to visit. She met with people from all over the country, but by far her favourite activity was her trips to stables and horse races.
She was a talented and passionate breeder of horses. According to Bruce McAvaney she attended the Derby at Epsom some 4 days after her coronation to watch her horse Aureole compete and come in second. That horse blossomed and won the Lingfield Derby Trial and the Coronation Cup.
She loved Royal Ascot and was friendly with all those who worked in the industry, from stable hands to breeders and owners. She bred many successful horses, but the win she had at Royal Ascot with Phantom’s Gold in 1995 was memorable.
Her respect and friendship with Bart Cummings is well documented. He claimed she winked at him at the 1988 Queen Elizabeth Stakes after Beau Zam beat Bonecrusher and Dandy Andy. In 2011, he said to her that he hoped she backed a winner at the Spring Festival. She replied that she doesn’t bet, with a characteristic cheeky grin. In the footage we have, you can see she is truly happy when she is around horses and race people.
Queen Elizabeth did run a horse in the Melbourne Cup. Her horse, Arabian Story, came in sixth. Those who knew her at the Australian Turf Club valued her support of the industry.
As a true-blue Aussie, I note the role Queen Elizabeth has played in our lives as a figurehead and role model. The grace and humility she brought to the role are something to behold. There can only be respect as her life was lived to serve the people whom she reigned over.
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