Introduction

The Queen has developed a very personal relationship with Australia through regular visits. She has travelled throughout the different states to meet people from all cultures, walks of life and regions of this enormous and fascinating country.

Australia is a constitutional monarchy with The Queen as Sovereign. As a constitutional monarch, The Queen, by convention, is not involved in the day-to-day business of the Australian Government, but she continues to play important ceremonial and symbolic roles.

The Queen's relationship to Australia is unique. In all her duties, she speaks and acts as Queen of Australia, and not as Queen of the United Kingdom.

The Queen's Royal style and title in Australia is Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth.

The role of the Governor-General

The Governor-General is The Queen's representative in Australia. As such, he or she performs the same constitutional role in Australia as The Queen does in the United Kingdom. 

The Queen maintains direct contact with the Governor-General, although she delegates executive power to him or her in virtually every respect.

Duties which the Governor-General carries out in the name of The Queen include opening and dissolving the Australian Parliament; commissioning the Prime Minister and appointing other Ministers after elections; giving assent to laws when they have been passed by the two Houses of Parliament; and appointing Federal judges and ambassadors and high commissioners to overseas countries.

The Governor-General is the Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Defence Force, although in practice he or she acts only on the advice of Ministers. As Commander-in-Chief, the Governor-General has an important ceremonial role to play.

He or she attends military parades and special occasions such as Anzac Day, and presents colours and other insignia to units of the Australian Defence Force.

As The Queen's representative, the Governor-General also receives and entertains official visitors to Australia; conducts investitures at which people receive awards for notable service to the community; and entertains many Australian citizens active in the life of the community.

Both the Governor-General and The Queen send congratulatory messages to people celebrating notable birthdays and wedding anniversaries. 

The Queen's role

When The Queen visits Australia, she speaks and acts as Queen of Australia, and not as Queen of the United Kingdom.

As a constitutional monarch, The Queen acts entirely on the advice of Australian Government Ministers who are responsible to Parliament.

The Queen is represented in Australia at the federal level by a Governor-General. He or she is appointed by The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister of Australia and is completely independent of the British Government. 

At the state level The Queen is represented by the Governors of each state who are appointed on the advice of each state Premier.

Even while based in the United Kingdom, The Queen is sensitive to her role as Queen of Australia, acknowledging issues which affect Australia through messages or congratulating Australian achievement. 

In February 2006, for example, The Queen hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace for prominent Australians living in the UK.

When visiting Australia, The Queen is able to undertake some of the ceremonial roles of the Sovereign. In 1954, for example, The Queen opened Parliament in Canberra for the first time, wearing the gown she had worn for her Coronation the previous year.

The Queen supports public service through her patronage of a large number of Australian organisations. These include The Royal Humane Society of Australasia; the Partially Blinded Soldiers' Association of Australia; the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne; the Scout Association of Australia; and the Mothers' Union in Australia. 

In addition The Queen holds a number of titles in the Australian Armed Forces, and has attended many events to honour their service in world conflicts.

In 2003, for example, The Queen acknowledged the huge debt owed to Australian servicemen and women in two world wars by opening the Australian War Memorial at Hyde Park Corner in London.

During her visits to Australia, one of The Queen's most important roles is to visit as many areas of society as possible. 

The Queen aims to recognise the achievements of the country's different cultures and communities, from traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to the vibrant and economically flourishing cities.

The Queen's Royal style and title in Australia is Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth.

At her Coronation on 2 June 1953, The Queen swore an oath to govern the peoples of Australia and her other realms "according to their respective laws and customs."

 

Royal visits

The Queen has been a regular visitor to Australia throughout her reign.

In 16 visits, The Queen has celebrated all aspects of Australian culture and life, from sheep farms to natural wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef, and from the triumph of Olympic and Commonwealth sporting meetings to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and tradition.

The very first Royal visitor to Australia was Prince Alfred, Queen Victoria's second son, and later Duke of Edinburgh. A captain in the Royal Navy, he visited Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in 1867-68 during a world tour on board HMS Galatea, and was met with enormous warmth.

But all did not go entirely smoothly. On 12 March 1868, an Irishman named Henry James O'Farrell shot the Prince at a picnic in Sydney. Fortunately, the Prince made a quick recovery and was able to leave Australia by early April. A hospital was founded in his name.

In 1901, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (later King George V and Queen Mary) visited Melbourne to open the first Federal Parliament. The visit confirmed links with Britain, and helped to make the opening a grand ceremonial and festive occasion.

Edward, the Prince of Wales arrived in Victoria on 2 April 1920 representing his father, King George V. His mission was to thank Australians for the part they played in World War I.

Australians warmed to his humour and modesty. He endeared himself to them further by making light of a rail accident in which his carriage overturned in Western Australia. The Prince was unhurt and thanked the officials for arranging the 'harmless little railway accident'.

In 1927 The Queen's parents, as Duke and Duchess of York, arrived at Sydney Harbour, attracting a crowd of over a million.

Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, the third son of King George V, served as Governor-General, and lived there with Princess Alice in 1945-7. He was Australia's first Royal Governor-General.

The first visit to Australia by a reigning monarch took place in 1954. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh undertook a tour of the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. They arrived in SS Gothic, steaming into Sydney Harbour.

The advent of air travel has made more frequent visits possible, although for many of them The Queen based herself on the Royal Yacht Britannia to travel around the country.

During her 1963 visit, The Queen made a unique broadcast to people in remote communities over the Flying Doctor network in Alice Springs.

In 1970 The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh joined in the celebrations marking Lieutenant James Cook's discovery of Australia 200 years earlier. They were accompanied on this occasion by Princess Anne and, for part of the time, by The Prince of Wales. 

In 1973, The Queen opened the landmark Sydney Opera House, an event which attracted world-wide attention.

Australia also figured prominently in The Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977, in which The Queen visited every state during a three-week tour.

The Queen and The Duke toured Australia again in 1980 and 1981, to coincide with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Melbourne. In 1982 they attended the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane.

In 1988 The Queen took part in Australia's bicentenary celebrations, travelling extensively across the nation, and opening the new Parliament House in Canberra. The same year also saw a tour by The Prince and Princess of Wales during January and February, and a visit by The Princess Royal.

The Queen has visited Australia on 16 occasions:
1954, 1963, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1992, 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2011.

Signs and symbols

Australia has its own symbols and celebrations to represent its Sovereign.

Unlike the United Kingdom, The Queen's birthday is celebrated in Australia as a public holiday. Except in the state of Western Australia, it is celebrated on the second Monday of June. In Western Australia, The Queen's birthday holiday is celebrated in late September or early October. As in the United Kingdom, none of these dates coincide with The Queen's actual birthday, which is 21 April.

The birthday is also marked by the publication of a list of recipients of the Order of Australia. The Queen of Australia is the Sovereign of the Order of Australia, which recognises service to Australia or to humanity.

In addition, each year, Australia Post issues a stamp commemorating The Queen's birthday.

Celebrating the Sovereign's birthday dates back to the late eighteenth century, when the birthday of King George III was marked with festivities in Australia.

When travelling in Australia, The Queen uses her special Australian standard.

This is made up of the shield of Australia (which features six parts, one for each state), surrounded by an ermine border. The whole is overlaid with a gold seven-pointed star, a blue disk, a gold chaplet of roses and a crowned E.

The Queen's portrait features on all Australian coinage, and on the five-dollar note.

The Australian State portrait of The Queen is one of the most familiar and well-loved images of Queen Elizabeth in the country.

Painted by Sir William Dargie in 1954, it depicts a youthful Queen in a yellow dress with a sprig of wattle on her shoulder.

Today the painting hangs in Parliament House, Canberra.

The Queen's Young Leaders

In 2014, the first Commonwealth-wide Queen's Young Leaders Award recognised two young Australians, Kate Row and Emily Smith as exceptional leaders in their community.

The Award celebrates the achievements of young people who are taking the lead to transform the lives of others and make a lasting difference in their communities.

Girl Guide leader Emily Smith runs a campaign encouraging body confidence and self-esteem, and Kate Row has worked on numerous projects to promote disability awareness and mental health. Find out more about The Queen's Young Leaders Awards here.