Parliament

QUEEN ELIZABETH II’s PHILANTHROPY

16 November, 2022

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. S.L. Game:

That this Council acknowledges the importance of philanthropy and community service to our society, and recognises the philanthropic and charitable endeavours of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (22:39): It is with great sadness that I rise today to support this motion. I wish to personally add my deepest sympathy and condolences to the royal family on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and pay tribute to Her late Majesty for her lifetime of distinguished service and her legacy of philanthropic endeavours that have had lasting impact on the world.

On 8 September 2022, the oldest living and the longest reigning British monarch, the beloved Queen of the United Kingdom and the other commonwealth realms, passed away peacefully at the age of 96 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

After 17 months apart, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, were reunited following Her Majesty's funeral, which took place on Monday 19 September at Westminster Abbey.

Queen Elizabeth was the first British monarch to celebrate her 60th diamond wedding anniversary in 2007. They had a long and wonderful marriage that lasted 73 years in total. Their long and strong partnership was most admirable.

Her Majesty dedicated her life to people of her nation and commonwealth and today I join my parliamentary colleagues to honour her remarkable life and her outstanding service to the community.

The late Queen had an incredible reign that spanned more than seven decades, after ascending to the throne at the age of 25 in 1952.

Her Majesty served with grace, dignity, intelligence, compassion, a wonderful sense of humour and an unwavering sense of duty and purpose from the moment she became Queen. She was a champion of humanity and a magnificent monarch.

As we reflect on the Queen's extensive philanthropic work during her reign, Her Majesty was associated with more than 600 charities spanning everything from dedication to armed forces, fencing and to bereavement care and women's issues.

Charities have paid tribute to the Queen for her sense of service, resilience and fortitude. World leaders have repeatedly made remarks that no-one has made greater contribution to the Commonwealth over the seven decades than the Queen.

The late Queen was Head of State to the Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth II visited at least 117 countries in her lifetime. This incredible feat makes her by far the most travelled monarch in Britain's history.

During her 70 years on the throne, the late Queen appointed 15 UK Prime Ministers, from Winston Churchill to Liz Truss.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss was appointed by the late Queen just 48 hours before her passing. It was another testament to the Queen's true sense of duty. Regardless of what personal condition she was in, Her Majesty carried her obligations with grace and dignity until almost the last days of her long life.

Australians, of course, had a special relationship with our late Queen. Her Majesty visited Australia on 16 occasions, the first time being in 1954 and the last time being in 2011.

Her Majesty was the first reigning British monarch to visit Australia in 1954 and she received a jubilant welcome in South Australia on her first tour and on another six occasions thereafter.

In 1954, South Australians welcomed the beautiful young Queen and her handsome Prince to Adelaide for the first time. Reports from The Advertiser on that day, 18 March 1954, estimated a crowd of some 200,000 people turning out for the start of her eight-day visit.

Later that week, at the Wayville Showground, more than 100,000 children from schools all over the city gathered for a royal music festival. The people of South Australia were so delighted to see the young beautiful queen on that first visit that South Australia presented her with a special gift, the Andamooka Opal Necklace and Earring Set.

On 23 March 1954, Her Majesty the late Queen Elizabeth II opened a special session of the Parliament of South Australia right here in this place, the Legislative Council. This was the first occasion in which a reigning monarch had performed this function, and therefore a day of singular significance in the State's constitutional history.

Her Majesty has been the only sovereign that most South Australians have ever known, and has been a constant beacon of hope throughout some of the darkest days of the 20th and the 21st centuries.

From World War II to the present conflict in Ukraine, the late Queen had seen six of the biggest wars and disputes that have taken place during her lifetime.

She witnessed World War II as a teenager under the reign of her father, King George VI. She is best known for her moral support to the British people during World War II, and her longevity.

With the world keeping on changing around us and around her, the Queen was the true constant. Her Majesty's optimism about our future and her fortitude in the face of adversity was an example to us all.

She remained steadfast throughout the turbulent postwar period and comforted millions around the world with her thoughtful and earnest worlds of resilience and encouragement.

The Queen committed her whole life to serving people, communities and charitable organisations around the world. She served her Commonwealth with grace, dignity, intelligence, compassion, and a wonderful sense of humour.

As we reflected on Her Majesty's incredible reign, I have been reminded of her wisdom and unique insights that she shared with the world.

In particular, I have been reflecting on the Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth, spread across the entire globe. This 'family of nations' is made up of people and communities from hundreds of ethnicities, cultures, religions and languages.

It is important I take a moment to acknowledge the Queen's great understanding of the importance of tolerance, acceptance and inclusion. These qualities are foundation blocks of building a more inclusive multicultural and multifaith society; to building a better, more peaceful and intercultural global world.

Queen Elizabeth II had a strong Christian faith that has been evident throughout her life and in her words and actions. In the Queen's Christmas broadcast in 2014, Her Majesty said:

For me the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ's example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none.

On 14 March 2016, in the Queen's Commonwealth Day message, she said:

Being inclusive and accepting diversity goes far deeper than accepting differences at face value and being tolerant…True celebration of the dignity of each person and the value of their uniqueness and contribution involves reaching out, recognising and embracing their individual identity.

As we live in a world of diversity, as we live in a multicultural South Australia, the late Her Majesty's wise words remind us all about the values of accepting differences, and embracing inclusivity.

As there are conflicts happening in many parts of our world, more than ever we must work together towards a common goal to build a sustainable future for everyone.

It has been a humbling experience to listen to so many contributions made by Honourable Members in this place in which Her Majesty has had a special presence in their lives. It seems that almost everyone has a memory, a story, or a special recollection about the late Queen Elizabeth II of how she touched people's lives around the world in some way, great or small.

I would like to share a story of my husband and his encounter with our beloved Queen. It was in April 1979. My husband, Eddie (his full name is Yew Peng Liew) was completing his hotel management studies in England.

He was one of the few, very fortunate international students to be selected to serve Her Majesty at a special luncheon. Eddie recalled that it was one of the most memorable, proud and honourable moments for him and his classmates.

As one would expect when the Queen was invited as an honoured guest everything had to be so precise and perfect on the day. The students who participated in the event received a formal certificate.

My husband retained his certificate, of course, and I would like to quote the words printed on it:

The Visit of Her Majesty the Queen & His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh to Winchester

This is to certify that Yew Peng Liew assisted with the catering at a luncheon given by Hampshire County Council in the great Hall of Winchester Castle on Maundy, Thursday, 12th April 1979 in honour of Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh at which the catering was undertaken by staff and students of Highbury College of Technology.

My dear husband often reminded me that it was truly an honour to serve the Queen, and the news of her passing was a very sad occasion for us. Not surprisingly, we were one of those millions of people who diligently sat in front of the TV and watched the Queen's funeral and procession from start to finish.

In 2016 I had the privilege of hosting a special afternoon tea in Parliament House on 9 September 2016 to honour and celebrate Her Majesty's 90th birthday.

It was a wonderful event made even more special with the help of Dr John Weste, the Parliamentary Librarian, who presented a number of key memorabilia pieces of the Queen's historical visit in 1954 and displayed them at the Old Chamber for viewing.

Dr John Weste's research work and contributions to the Queen's 90th birthday celebration were greatly appreciated. John has an impeccable eye for details and, through good fortune and serendipity, he discovered some rare one-of-a-kind items tucked away in the library.

Those items included the restoration of original architectural designs of Parliament House to mark the Queen's royal visit.

My guests, including recipients of the Order of Australia from the Queen's Birthday Honours, wrote heartfelt notes and birthday messages in a special souvenir book which I had the pleasure of compiling and sent to Buckingham Palace.

I was delighted to receive a letter of acknowledgement and thanks from Her Majesty, something that I treasure now more than ever.

Many women here in Australia and across the world, including my late mother, absolutely adored the Queen and her sense of fashion and her timeless elegance. Indirectly, I believe the Queen had a major influence over my late mother's love for fashion and brightly coloured clothing.

Over the seven decades of her reign, Her Majesty became a style icon. Inheriting the Crown from her father in the still very patriarchal landscape of the 1950s, one would forgive her for somehow quashing her femininity.

Instead, she did quite the opposite. From her earliest ruling years to the final pictures we have of Her Majesty, as always, she was unapologetically feminine. It was a subtle yet empowering statement.

The style legacy of the Queen is a simple lesson in the power of fashion. She was a woman who knew she was herself a symbol of authority and adopted a classic yet iconic uniform to communicate this: pearls, hats, block colours.

From the moment she made that famous address that she would devote her life, whether it was long or short, to offering stability and reassurance to Great Britain and the Commonwealth, she dressed specifically to carry out her duties from day one.

Her Majesty was always aware of the power of what she wore to convey the right message. She was not just a style icon. She was the embodiment of a female leader who dominated the world stage. She would incorporate the colours of the event she was attending, the head of state she was meeting or the nation she was visiting.

Her use of colour allowed her to stand out, not only bringing joy to those who met her but making it easier for those who had often travelled far to pick her out of the crowd. She would be bold when required, she would be subdued when reflecting a national mood or she would be practical when the occasion called for it. She was stylish, polished and elegant.

The Queen wore nothing by accident. 'If I wore beige no-one would know who I was,' Queen Elizabeth famously said. They were the words of a woman with a keen awareness of what clothes meant. Fashion to the late Queen was not superficial.

Quite the contrary, the monarch knew that what you wear matters, and when you are a public figure of such magnitude it matters a great deal.

There was sadness, deep reflection, utmost respect and gratitude on full display when South Australians gathered at St Peters Cathedral on 20 September to farewell Her Majesty The Queen in Adelaide.

It was truly a great honour to be part of the moving service, joining many of my parliamentary colleagues and hundreds of South Australians to pay our respects and bid farewell to the longest serving and remarkable Queen.

The Archbishop of Adelaide, His Excellency Geoffrey Smith, said to the hundreds of South Australians at the church service:

…many mourning Her Majesty grew to think of her as a grandmother or great-grandmother.

Queen Elizabeth may have lived a long way away but she was always there.

It is a sentiment shared by many, including me. Queen Elizabeth was the only Queen most of us have ever known.

It was an honour to attend the historic state ceremony for the proclamation of the accession of His Majesty King Charles III on Sunday 11 September in front of the Parliament House of South Australia.

Her Excellency the Hon. Frances Adamson AC read the formal proclamation on the front step of Parliament House, declaring:

…Prince Charles Philip Arthur George to be King Charles III, by grace of God, King of Australia and his realms and territories.

And with hearty and humble affection we promise him faith and obedience. May King Charles III have long and happy years to reign over us. God save the King.

I commend the motion.