Anthony Albanese reflects on Queen’s visits to Australia in speech in London

Anthony Albanese will remember Queen Elizabeth II as someone who “transcended barriers” so much so that one could be a republican and “still feel nothing but regard for her”.

The Prime Minister is expected to reflect on the late monarch’s 16 visits to Australia when he delivers an address at the Australian High Commission in London on Sunday.

“She got to know us, appreciate us, embrace us. And the feeling was very much mutual,” Mr Albanese will tell a commemorative luncheon at Australia House.

Mr Albanese will recall the Queen’s trip during which he said she had the quintessentially Australian experience of sitting next to Bob Hawke at the races when his horse was winning.

“The photograph of these two connoisseurs of the turf in that moment is a perfect study in balance – the Queen sitting serenely, Bob going off like a firecracker in a suit,” Mr Albanese will say.

“Bob was criticised, but as he later reflected:

“’I took great pleasure a little later in pointing to an image of the Queen showing similar exultation when one of her horses won in England.’”

The British monarch and the larrikin former prime minister were captured by Australian photojournalist Bruce Postle in what became a classic photograph of the pair.

Hawke jumped for joy as he cheered the Bart Cummings-trained Beau Zam over the finish line at the 1988 Queen Elizabeth Bicentennial Stakes in Canberra.

The Queen was more composed.

Mr Albanese will on Sunday revisit what the longest serving British monarch said at the Sydney Opera House in 2000:

“’Since I first stepped ashore here … I have felt part of this rugged, honest, creative land. I have shared in the joys and the sorrows, the challenges and the changes that have shaped this country’s history’”

Mr Albanese will say Australians had a special place in their hearts for the Queen from the time of her first visit in 1954.

He will say Australians’ affection and respect for the late British monarch remained “unchanged” and “undiminished” even as the relationship between the two nations changed over time.

Speaking to Australian journalists from London on Saturday, Mr Albanese said it was an honor to represent the nation at the Queen’s funeral on Monday.

He will meet with the UK Prime Minister Liz Truss and the new monarch, King Charles III this weekend.

Queen Elizabeth II’s death and the succession of the British throne to her son has invigorated debate over whether Australia should leave the Commonwealth to become a republic.

Mr Albanese is a republican but he has said “now is not the time” for questions on the matter.

He has said his priority is holding a referendum on the recognition of First Australians in the Constitution with an Indigenous Voice to parliament.

Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles echoed those comments on Saturday, telling reporters in Geelong: “Those foundational questions about our nation are important, but right now it is about honoring Queen Elizabeth II.”

Mr Marles said he thought Australians “irrespective of their view about our constitutional arrangements” had been “deeply moved” by her death.

“That’s why it’s so important that on Monday for the Queen’s funeral, Australia will be represented at this incredibly important event by both our Prime Minister and our Governor General,” he said.

Originally published as Anthony Albanese remembers photo of Queen Elizabeth II and Bob Hawke at races in Australia

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