WA Governor Chris Dawson has remembered Queen Elizabeth II as a “beacon of stability through decades of rapid change” as he invited West Australians to pay their respects at Government House over the next fortnight.
Mr Dawson and wife Darrilyn laid the first wreath in honour of the Queen this morning, followed immediately by Premier Mark McGowan, before the trio signed the Condolence Book located inside Government House Ballroom.
“In doing her duty, she pledged her whole life to the service of Australia and the entire Commonwealth,” Mr Dawson said.
“She has fulfilled that pledge with grace, dignity, and a tireless commitment to duty. We thank her Majesty for her unwavering love for this country, a place she visited 16 times during her long and enduring reign.”
Mr McGowan said the late Queen had been a “tower of strength” since ascending to the role at the age of 25 in 1952.
“Her Majesty led the Commonwealth with dignity, grace and compassion,” the Premier said.
“Her commitment to duty and public service is unrivalled, which is testament to her unwavering resilience and strength of character.
“For many she is synonymous with the post-World War II era in a way that no other head of state could ever be.”
Mr McGowan also reflected on the Queen’s seven trips to WA, which came in 1954, 1963, 1977, 1981, 1988, 2000 and most recently 2011 for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, which was the last Australian city she visited.
“During her visit to Western Australia in March 1954, the Queen and the late Duke of Edinburgh visited Albany, Busselton, Northam and York,” Mr McGowan said
“They also planted two trees near the King’s Park War Memorial during this visit.
“Western Australia during this time was in the midst of a polio epidemic, which forced tour organisers to alter a number of plans to protect the royal party.”
During subsequent visits the Queen saw Kununurra, Broome and Busselton – and also lit the Flame of Remembrance at Kings Park in 2000.
Mr Dawson – then an assistant Commissioner with WA Police – was in charge of security for CHOGM, a role that placed him in close proximity to the Queen although he said he never personally met her.
“Everything (about her) embodied her service, the devotion to duty,” Mr Dawson said.
“And just being actually in her presence was an absolute privilege.”
“I can think of no better human example of devotion to duty and service. So as the Premier has already expressed, Western Australians will feel her loss very deeply.”
Mr Dawson said he had been informed of the Queen’s death shortly after midnight Perth time.
“The sense of loss was immediate,” he said.
“You just simply cannot find people who do not respect her, not just as a Monarch but as a person.
“She has been such a great example to the world and of course to Australia.”
Mr McGowan received a phone call at 12.40am.
The Premier said he had not personally met the Queen either but attended an event alongside her at Government House in his first term in Parliament in 2000.
“I saw her there, she was very motivated by a sense of duty and service,” he said.
“She was indefatigable in her energy and she met scores of people here at this event, maybe hundreds, and always had a smile on her face and a kind word for people.”