Australia's prime minster urges Queen to use Commonwealth as her 'strength and stay' as she grieves

Verity Bowman
·3-min read
Prince Philip (L) receives flowers as he meets with wellwishers gathered in Perth for a 'Great Aussie Barbecue' event as the queen's final public engagement in Australia on October 29, 2011 - RICHARD HATHERLY /AFP
Prince Philip (L) receives flowers as he meets with wellwishers gathered in Perth for a 'Great Aussie Barbecue' event as the queen's final public engagement in Australia on October 29, 2011 - RICHARD HATHERLY /AFP

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison implored the Queen to let the Commonwealth be “her strength and stay” during her time of grief - just as she has been for the union across “so many generations”.

"She has been there for us over such a long time, let us be there now for you, your Majesty, and allow us to send our love to you,” he said during his speech from Kiribilli House on Friday.

Mr Morrison's words echoed those of the Queen, who in 1997 described her husband as her "strength and stay".

The Duke of Edinburgh first sailed into Sydney Harbour on March 14, 1940 as the 18-year-old serviceman Philip Mountbatten in what would become the first trip of 20.

His second visit during the royal tour of 1957 saw an estimated 75 per cent of Australia’s population pour onto the streets to catch a glimpse of the Queen and her husband.

The Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh at the closing ceremony of the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane - Fairfax Media 
The Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh at the closing ceremony of the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane - Fairfax Media

Prince Phillip’s final trip came in 2011, 71 years after his journey on the battleship HMS Ramillies, when he accompanied the Queen to a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

As Mr Morrison led Australia’s tribute, he described how the Duke had become a figure of “stability” from his first visit to the end of his life.

“His presence and service [were] a reassurance, a reminder of the stability we so often need in a world that can be so uncertain,” he said. “With his passing, we say farewell to another of the greatest generation.”

Queen Elizabeth II Australia Tour 1970 - Telegraph
Queen Elizabeth II Australia Tour 1970 - Telegraph

Mr Morrison’s accolade outlined fond and emotional memories of Prince Philip, honing in on his compassion as Australia reeled from the 1967 Tasmania bushfires.

“There were also moments of deep compassion, in particular in the terrible bushfires of 1967 in Tasmania, where he comforted the victims and he toured the burnt-out Cascade Brewery.”

The Duke’s visit to the fire ravaged areas, where 60 people lost their lives, offered support to the 900 injured and 7,000 rendered homeless.

Across Australia flags have been lowered to half-mask, while a 41-gun salute rang outside of Parliament House in Canberra on Saturday. The tradition will take place in all Commonwealth countries.

A 41-gun salute rang outside of Parliament House in Canberra on Saturday - LSIS KIEREN WHITELEY /AFP
A 41-gun salute rang outside of Parliament House in Canberra on Saturday - LSIS KIEREN WHITELEY /AFP

“The Commonwealth family joins together in sorrow and thanksgiving for the loss and life of Prince Philip,” Mr Morrison said.

Queen Rania of Jordan on Saturday described the Duke as a "constant anchor" during his marriage to the Queen as she touched upon her own experiences as a Royal

"Being married to someone who is under so much pressure means you have to do whatever you can to try and alleviate some of that pressure," she told ITV news.

"There must have been times when it wasn't easy for him... but at the same time he was a constant anchor for Her Majesty and I think she probably wouldn't have been able to carry on her journey the way she did without him by her side."