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Australia observes day of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II

Sydney, Australia, Sep 22 (EFE).- Australians observed a minute’s silence for Queen Elizabeth II at 11 am Thursday as part of a national day of mourning officially declared to pay tribute to the British monarch, who was the country’s head of state during her 70-year reign.

“The minute of silence that we just observed in honor of the queen was truly a moment of national unity,” said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the national memorial service held at Parliament House in Canberra with around 700 guests, including political leaders and officials.

Albanese said that although “monuments to the queen dot our landscape” and “the name of Elizabeth lives in nearly every town,” the greatest tribute Australians can offer her family is a “renewed embrace of service to community,” a “truer understanding of our duty to others” and a “stronger commitment to respect for all.”

“This would be a most fitting memorial to a magnificent life. May Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the second rest in eternal peace,” concluded the leader in the emotional official event, which was broadcast live.

Governor General David Hurley said that the queen’s death “still struck with an impact that has exceeded any expectation.”

“History will remember a few like Queen Elizabeth the second, while we mourn her passing, we are grateful that we have witnessed and benefited from her remarkable life,” he added.

The memorial began with a traditional aboriginal ceremony, while flowers and a large painting of Elizabeth II by William Dargie in 1954 were placed on the stage.

Outside parliament, around 100 people gathered in the gardens despite the drizzle to follow the official ceremony through a giant screen on a day declared a public holiday.

For many Australians, Elizabeth II was an enduring figure in celebrations and tragedies since 1954 when she became the first British monarch to set foot in Australia, which was a British colony until 1901, as well as her 15 subsequent trips.

A poll published this week by the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that 54 percent of Australians support maintaining the current monarchy with parliamentary democracy system, an eight percent increase compared to a similar poll carried out in January.

Queen Elizabeth II, who died on Sep. 8 at the age of 96, was also the head of state of New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, as well as other nations. EFE

wat/snm/tw

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