HomeLifeA personal reflection on the life of Queen Elizabeth

A personal reflection on the life of Queen Elizabeth

The death of Queen Elizabeth II has sparked an outpouring of emotions from pretty much everyone in Australia. And the spectrum of those emotions has been vast. The Queen – and her passing – means different things to different people, and that fact has never been more obvious than over the past fortnight.

For some, the Queen’s death means it’s time to re-evaluate the role of the monarchy in Australia, while others regard that debate so soon after her passing as profoundly disrespectful.

I am not a monarchist, but as someone born and raised in Australia, the Queen – or her image at least – has been a constant.

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My earliest conscious memory of Queen Elizabeth dates back to 1970, my first year in primary school. On one particular school day, a rumour swept through us five-year-old prep-graders that the Queen had been spotted at our humble western suburban school in Melbourne.

The reason that story sticks in my mind is because it turned out that ‘Her Majesty’ was in fact my mum. She’d dropped off my lunch, which I’d mistakenly left at home. Mum did have a hairstyle not unlike the Queen’s at the time and from a distance I suppose she did look a little bit like her.

Back in 1970, people still sent letters to each other, and mum was always cutting stamps from envelopes and saving them. We had an old silver chocolate tin full of them and at that time, the most common stamp was the blue five-cent stamp with QEII on it.

I had just started following my elder siblings into stamp collecting and can remember being intrigued by the array of different Australian ‘Queen’ stamps, each with the same image, but with different colours for different denominations: brown for the one-cent stamp, blue for the five, orange for the six and, when the price of sending a standard letter went up in 1972, purple for the seven-cent stamp.

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That’s all the Queen meant to me at the time. As I got older, I did start to wonder why this lady who lived 10,000 miles away was our head of state. Even 50 years ago, nobody was referring to England as the ‘mother country’. That was a term found only in old war stories.

I do remember the 1977 referendum to decide our preferred national anthem and being pleased as a 12-year-old that Advance Australia Fair won out against God Save the Queen.

Over the decades, I’ve viewed the monarchy as an anachronism, particularly in Australia, but I can’t say the subject has occupied a huge amount of my headspace. The only times I’ve really thought about the Queen over that period is when the design of our coins and banknotes changes. (I no longer collect stamps.)

But I did vote in favour of our country becoming a republic and am certainly aware of the fate of many indigenous peoples and cultures under the banner of ‘colonisation’.

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The tension between those whose views on the monarchy differ was never more evident than on the day of Queen Elizabeth’s passing. I attended an AFLW match between the Western Bulldogs and Fremantle, which marked the beginning of the AFLW’s Indigenous round.

A celebration of Indigenous culture, including a ‘welcome to country’ was followed immediately by a minute’s silence for the Queen, which caused notable distress for some of the Indigenous people there and a palpable awkwardness in the crowd.

Recognising this, the AFLW decided to remove the minute’s silence from the remaining Indigenous round matches. This drew the ire of some, including a staunch patron and advocate of women’s footy, Susan Alberti.

For the AFLW, it was a no-win situation. Whatever decision it made, someone was going to be offended.

For what it’s worth, I think the decision to forgo the minute’s silence was the right one. I know many will disagree with me, as many will with my support of Australia becoming a republic.

As we farewell Queen Elizabeth II and usher in King Charles III, it’s nice to know that whichever nation model we choose in the years ahead, we are at least free as a nation to have a civil debate on the matter.

Was Queen Elizabeth a big part of your life? What does her death mean to you? Why not share your experience and thoughts in the comments section below?

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigaczhttps://www.patreon.com/AndrewGigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.


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