CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s national day of mourning for the late Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday centred on the Houses of Parliament as politicians placed acacia branches — the national floral symbol — on wreaths.
The focus of the parliamentary hall ceremony was a portrait of the former British and Australian monarch wearing a yellow dress emblazoned with golden thorns, which she wore on her first evening in Australia in 1954, known as the “Thorn Painting” , created by Australian artist William Dargie.
Queen dies on September 8 In the southern hemisphere spring, when the acacia blooms, its golden flowers and green leaves reflect Australia’s national colours, which have become a symbol of unity.
The government declared Thursday a national public holiday in a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and King Charles III’s representative in Australia, Governor-General David Hurley.Both have returned from the Queen’s funeral in London on Wednesday.
The holiday has been marked by protests that focus on the harm done to Indigenous Australians by British colonization. Australia is one of the few former British colonies that never entered into a treaty with Aboriginal people.
In his speech, Hurley highlighted the reaction of some Aboriginal Australians, who died earlier and were more likely to be imprisoned than any other minority there.
“I acknowledge that her passing has caused mixed reactions from some in our community,” Hurley said. “I consciously respect that the response of many Indigenous Australians has been shaped by our colonial history and the broader journey of reconciliation, which we must complete as a nation.”
Government plans to amend Australia’s constitution The referendum will create a mechanism for Indigenous peoples to consult Parliament on policies affecting their lives.
Aboriginal reactions to the Queen’s death have been mixed. Aboriginal dancers and singers begin the Parliament House ceremony.
Albanese, who wants Australia to replace the British monarch with the Australian head of state, has spoken of how the country has changed since 70 per cent of the population saw the queen in 1954.
“Perhaps the greatest tribute we can give to her family and her memory is not a marble statue or a metal plaque,” Albanese said. “It’s a renewed embrace of community service.”
Two polls released since the Queen’s death show a majority of Australians want to keep the constitutional monarchy. Advocates of the Australian Republic see it as a temporary reaction to strong media coverage of a popular monarch.
Past and present political leaders, judges, military chiefs and other dignitaries were among the 700 guests in attendance.
The Queen officially opened the Houses of Parliament in 1988. Her father opened a temporary parliament building nearby in 1927. King George VI was then the Duke of York, making his daughter the first reigning monarch to visit Australia.