King Charles leads the tributes in moving state memorial honouring Barry Humphries

Dec 15, 2023
King Charles III and Sir Elton John were among those who expressed their admiration for Barry Humphries during a grand state memorial service held at the iconic Sydney Opera House. Source: Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS.

Hundreds have gathered at the Sydney Opera House on Friday, December 15 to celebrate the life of acclaimed Australian entertainer Barry Humphries.

The comedy legend, best known for his alter egos, Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson, sadly passed away on April 22, at the age of 89.

Humphries’ extraordinary international career, spanning an impressive seven decades, was celebrated by dignitaries such as John Howard and Malcolm Turnbull who joined family, friends, and fans.

The service was hosted by television presenter Richard Wilkins who addressed Humphries’ family who were in attendance.

“We would like to particularly welcome the family here today who’ve lost a husband, a father, a grandfather, a brother, a uncle, and an aunty also, I guess,” he said.

Arts Minister Tony Burke then proceeded to share a poignant message from King Charles, conveying His Majesty’s profound sorrow over the passing of the Australian comedian.

“Those who tried to stand on their dignity soon lost their footing,” the King’s message read.

“Those who wondered whether Australia’s housewife superstar might this time just go too far, were always proved right.

“Life really won’t be the same without him. May our gladioli bloom in celebration of his memory.”

Following King Charles’ moving words, a video message from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese played, wherein he remarked that the entertainer “had the ultimate power, a power he exercised with a glee that never knew any bounds”.

“Just like this place, he brought people from every state and territory together. And, in the process, this genius, this comedic giant, brought joy to every part of Australia,” Albanese added.

“Then, like a never-ending bunch of gladioli, he showered it upon the world.”

Video messages were delivered from the likes of comedian Jimmy Carr, actor and comedy writer David Walliams, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, and comedian Rob Brydon.

Renowned singing sensation Sir Elton John also delivered a video tribute, describing Humphries as not only one of the funniest people in the world but also kind and generous.

“He was a raconteur of incredible, incredible importance and genius, it’s sad that we won’t be seeing him again, but we have so many memories of him,” Sir Elton said.

Later in the proceedings, Humphries’ daughter Tessa recited one of her father’s poems, while sons Oscar and Rupert expressed gratitude on behalf of the family, extending their thanks to their stepmother Lizzy Spender.

Rupert fondly remembered his childhood, always wanting to be with his dad, tagging along on tours, and enjoying time in theatres, concert halls, and TV studios.

“My favourite smell growing up was the acetone in his little pink pots of nail polish remover,” Rupert said.

As the ceremony drew to a close, those in attendance joined together to sing along to a video of Dame Edna’s Why do we love Australia?

In tribute to Humphries, the sails of the Sydney Opera House will be lit up with an image of Dame Edna’s sparkling glasses on Friday night.

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