The national capital is in mourning today following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, our longest reigning monarch, Australia’s head of state and a woman held in the highest regard for her integrity and unwavering devotion to duty.
A statement from Buckingham Palace said that Her Majesty had died peacefully at Balmoral Castle at the age of 96.
“On behalf of the ACT Government and the people of Canberra, we offer our deepest sympathies to the Royal Family”, Chief Minister Andrew Barr said in a statement this morning.
“Today marks the end of an era”.
Her Majesty visited Canberra on 14 occasions throughout her time as monarch, from her first visit in 1954 to open the Federal Parliament to her most recent visit in 2011 as part of a National Tour.
On that occasion, thousands of Canberrans thronged the lake on a brilliantly sunny day, cheering as a tiny lilac-clad figure sailed by, waving.
That day Her Majesty met with then Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce, then Prime Minister Julia Gillard and then Chief Minister Katy Gallagher (now ACT senator). It was a remarkable vision of women’s leadership.
In 1992, Her Majesty opened Bonython Primary School and in 2006 honoured emergency services personnel involved in the January 2003 bushfires.
“Her Majesty has been the monarch throughout the lives of the majority of Canberrans. Her life is an incredible dedication to public duty and I’m sure many Canberrans will be saddened by her passing this morning. May she rest in peace,” Mr Barr said.
As a mark of respect, and in accordance with protocol, flags will be flown at half-mast in the ACT until further notice. Arrangements for the funeral will be announced within the next two days, and Parliament will not sit next week, observing a 14-day observance period.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Governor General David Hurley will travel to London to meet with the Queen’s heir, now formally known as King Charles III.
“We will convey the sorrow of Australians as well as our best wishes to him and the Queen Consort as he takes on his duties as sovereign,” Mr Albanese said in a message to the nation.
“This time of mourning will pass, but the deep respect and warm regard in which Australians have always held Her Majesty will never fade.
“An historic reign and a long life devoted to duty, family, faith and service has come to an end.
“The government and the people of Australia offer our deepest condolences to the Royal Family, who are grieving for a beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother – the person whom for so long was their greatest inner strength.”
Governor-General David Hurley described the Queen as “a truly remarkable person”, known for her dignity, compassion, dedication and tireless work ethic.
The two-week official mourning period for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be marked by ceremonial and commemorative activities at Parliament House.
These activities will include laying floral tributes, a gun salute and a national memorial service. A condolence book is also available to express sympathies to the Royal Family.
Her Majesty was a frequent visitor to Old Parliament House and on three occasions opened Parliament from the Senate chamber. Commemorative books have been placed in King’s Hall and the museum’s Happy and Glorious exhibition, which pays tribute to her 1954 visit and visitors are invited to record their memories and express condolences.