Australians Cheer Appearance by Queen Elizabeth II

Posted October 19th, 2011 at 11:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Thousands of Australians turned out Thursday to cheer Queen Elizabeth II as the British monarch appeared for her first full day of a 10-day tour of the country.

The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, took a boat ride on a lake in the capital, Canberra, as they kicked off their formal program with a visit to a flower show.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard faced questions for shaking hands with the queen, rather than greeting the 85-year-old monarch with a curtsey. Ms. Gillard said she was following very clear advice and did what made her most comfortable.

The prime minister has called for Australia to become a republic upon the death of Elizabeth, but she said Wednesday that Australians will celebrate the queen's presence in the country this week. Australians in 1999 voted down a referendum that would have turned the country into a republic at that time.

The queen's itinerary calls for her to visit Parliament House on Friday and visit Brisbane and Melbourne before opening a meeting of the 54-nation Commonwealth next week in Perth. She has attended every meeting of the Commonwealth heads of government throughout her 58-year reign.