Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8 at Balmoral in Scotland, aged 96, surrounded by her children, including her eldest son, now King Charles III.
In her 70-year reign, she has devoted herself to her country, the Commonwealth, and its people, gaining respect and love worldwide.
Queen Elizabeth visited Australia sixteen times during her reign, and she developed a unique and personal relationship with Australians.
On February 3, 1954, she disembarked SS Gothic in Sydney as the first reigning British monarch to step foot on Australian soil. For both the young sovereign and the adoring Australians, the Queen's first visit to Australia in 1954 was memorable and impactful, as during the tour, the Queen was able to introduce herself to her subjects and thank the Commonwealth for its support during World War II.
As her Majesty began her tour in Australia, she told Australians:
In the same short space of time, we have seen the rise of Australia as a great nation, taking her full share in the counsels of the British Commonwealth and of the world. I am proud indeed to be at the head of a nation that has achieved so much.
During her eight-week tour of Australia, the Queen visited all state and territory capitals (except Darwin) and many rural towns. On this visit, the Queen and Prince Philip were shown the best of Australian business, industry, and culture; the Queen officially opened state and federal parliaments as part of her constitutional duties.
As one of the last significant events before television, more than three-quarters of Australia's nine million people saw her in person. The young, glamorous, seemingly approachable monarch captivated Australia, making the front-page news for what she wore, what she attended, and who she met. All over the country, cinemas showed footage of the Queen's activities.
Even though Australia's views on sovereignty have changed over time, Australians are grateful and respectful of the Queen's outstanding dedication to duty and outstanding service during her seven decades as monarch and head of state.