June 10, 2023

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – An Australian national day of mourning for the late Queen Elizabeth II centered on Parliament House on Thursday, where dignitaries laid a wreath and placed sprigs of golden wattle – the national flower symbol.

The focus of the ceremony in Parliament’s Great Hall was a portrait of the former King of Britain and Australia in a yellow robe decorated with golden wattle motifs that he wore on his first night in Australia in 1954, known as the “Wattle Painting”. By Australian artist William Dargie.

Death of the Queen on September 8 Spring in the Southern Hemisphere came when the wettle blossomed, its golden flowers and green leaves reflecting Australia’s national color which has become a symbol of unity.

The government declared a nationwide public holiday on Thursday and the event was attended by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and King Charles III’s representative in Australia, Governor-General David Hurley. Both returned from the Queen’s funeral in London on Wednesday.

The holiday has been marked by some protests that focus on the loss of Aboriginal Australians due to British colonization. Australia is one of the few former British colonies that never made treaties with indigenous peoples.

Hurley used his speech to highlight the reactions of some Indigenous Australians, who die young and are more likely to be imprisoned than any other ethnic minority there.

“I recognize that his passing has had a different reaction for some people in our community,” Hurley said. “I am mindful to respect that the response of many First Nations Australians has been shaped by our colonial history and the broader reconciliation journey we must complete as a nation.”

The government is planning to change the Australian constitution Through a referendum that would create a mechanism for indigenous peoples to consult Parliament on policies that affect their lives.

Adivasi reactions to the Queen’s death have been mixed. Adivasi dancers started the ceremony at Sangsad Bhavan.

Albanese, who wants Australia to replace the British monarch with an Australian head of state, spoke about how the country had changed since 1954 when 70% of the population saw the Queen.

“Perhaps the greatest tribute we can pay to his family and his memory is not a marble statue or a metal plaque,” Albanese said. “It’s a new embrace of community service.”

Two opinion polls released after the Queen’s death show most Australians want a constitutional monarchy. Lawyers for an Australian republic argue it is a temporary response to intense media coverage of a popular monarch.

Among the 700 guests at the service were past and present political leaders, judges, army chiefs and other dignitaries.

The Queen officially opened Parliament House in 1988. His father opened a temporary parliament building nearby in 1927. King George VI was then Duke of York, making his daughter the first royal to visit Australia.

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