I’m pleased I said yes when my friend suggested we attend Government House in Brisbane to witness a most surreal moment, the Proclamation of the King. It was a history-making, emotional event on a warm sunny spring afternoon waiting as we stood on the hill with the statue of Queen Elizabeth II close by overseeing the event.
There were men in black splattered throughout the crowd which gave me some level of comfort although the police were out in force, as were members of the Australian Army. All very surreal knowing the reason I was there, we don’t have a Queen anymore.
I still feel sad.
I always felt safe with Queen Elizabeth as the head of our Commonwealth. She seemed to be the only world leader who was calm and in control and represented peace, particularly when she looked up and smiled. Her reassuring smile said all will be okay. Whereas many world leaders seem to be about power and ego, some even encourage war.
Not to mention her dedication to duty, Queen Elizabeth was still working right up until she died – and she was 96! How many commoners like myself, even with staff to assist, would do this while feeling dreadfully lousy as she probably did seeing as she died two days later? To drag themselves out of bed and adorn their body in smart clothes, full make-up and hair, probably pulled a life-supporting drip out of her bruised hand all because of her sense of duty to ensure her official audience and acknowledgment of Liz Truss, the new UK Prime Minister, was conducted in person.
What an amazing lady she was. No wonder her death has been felt by all, including non-royalists and republicans, some of whom said to me they also shed a tear on hearing the news of her passing and continue to feel sad. From a psychological perspective, I think the true loyalists have lost their sense of security, like losing your mother. Time will heal.
What surprised me though, is when the Australian Army Band played God Save the King. I became rather emotional and needed to wipe away the tears before my mascara became embarrassingly smudged.
I couldn’t even sing (partly from my restricted breathing from post-Covid), so I stood there with hundreds of others and felt sad as I lifted my sunglasses to dab each tear.
It wasn’t about King Charles, as I was impressed with his first speech as King, it was the overall sadness of loss that resembled the same feeling I had when my mother died.
I then started to reflect on when Queen Elizabeth visited Australia in 1954. I was only four back then but remember fragments of her visit to Tasmania. My mother took my brother and me to my next-door neighbour’s house to witness the official Royal parade pass by. We then continued into the town of Burnie, a few miles away, to see the Queen walk up the stairs to visit the local government house. I still have my commemorative mug that mum gave us. It was filled with grapes, probably to keep us quiet at the time.
But it was special, even at that young age, as we always followed the Royal family. To this day, I still know the words to God Save the Queen and struggle remembering the words to Advance Australia Fair, only because we had left school when it was introduced, which made it difficult. You learnt all these songs at school.
Apart from my mother looking like our Queen, particularly as they both aged, for me, it is a staunch reminder about our mortality, particularly as we age. The reality is that time is short and to make the most of what we all have left. I think we thought the Queen would live forever.
Anyway, it was special attending the proclamation of our new King Charles III. By being there in person, I was part of history and yes, things will get back to normal. Unlike her subjects when Queen Victoria died, they thought it unimaginable and risky when King Edward VII took over as king. Victoria reigned for 63 years until the death of our Queen Elizabeth who reigned for 70 years and 214 days.
I feel confident that King Charles III will do his best to follow in his mother’s footsteps.
Long live the King.