Australian PM honours Queen Elizabeth with wreath-laying ceremony

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SYDNEY, Sept 10 (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese paid tribute to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth after a wreath-laying ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra on Saturday, saying Australians were mourning an “enormous loss”.

Albanese, Governor General David Hurley and other dignitaries laid floral wreaths at the foot of a bronze statue of Queen Elizabeth at the parliament’s Queen’s Terrace.

The queen, who died on Thursday aged 96, unveiled the bronze statue of herself in 1988 during a visit to open the nation’s new parliament house.

Speaking after the ceremony, which was conducted in silence, Albanese said King Charles’ reflections on his late mother were “extraordinarily fitting”.

“So many Australians have made moving tributes and are mourning this enormous loss,” he added.

The British monarch is the head of state in Australia, among 14 realms outside the United Kingdom, although the role is largely ceremonial.

There has been an outpouring of tributes in Australia since the death of the Queen, who was Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the nation’s figurehead for seven decades.

As a mark of respect, the Australian flag is flying at half-mast and on Friday a 96-gun salute — one round for each year of the Queen’s life – took place on the Parliament House forecourt.

A giant portrait of the Queen was displayed on the sails of the Sydney Opera House.

Albanese, who has previously spoken in support of moving toward a republic, said he talked on Friday night with British Prime Minister Liz Truss about the depth of sadness in both countries.

Queen Elizabeth visited Australia 16 times during her reign, with the first visit in 1954 and the last in 2011.

Reporting by Sam McKeith, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Richard Pullin

A member of the defence force stands next to a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, 10 September 2022. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II died at her Scottish estate, Balmoral Castle, on 08 September 2022. The 96-year-old Queen was the longest-reigning monarch in British history EPA-EFE/MICK TSIKAS

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