Australians Rolls Out Warm Welcome for Queen Elizabeth II

Posted October 19th, 2011 at 3:50 am (UTC-5)
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Australia provided a warm welcome for Queen Elizabeth II when the British monarch arrived in the country late Wednesday, in spite of the government's stated commitment to ending the nation's allegiance to the crown.

The 85-year-old Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, landed at an Australian air force base in the capital, Canberra, and were escorted to the residence of Governor General Quentin Bryce. Her formal program begins Thursday with a visit to a flower show in the capital.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard 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.