The representative of Queen Elizabeth II in Australia recalled two memorable telephone conversations with the monarch before her death.
Governor General David Hurley said he and his wife last spoke to the Queen when they presented the 2022 Australians of the Year in January.
“I will always cherish Linda and my last call with Her Majesty,” Sir Hurley said in an address to Australians on Friday evening.
“She was warm, cheerful and sincere in her interest in their work and our country.”
Sir Hurley, who has served as Governor General since July 2019, said he was touched by the Queen’s response during another call last April.
“When Linda and I spoke to Her Majesty after the death of Prince Philip, the first thing she asked about was the welfare of Australians, especially Western Australians affected by Tropical Cyclone Seroja,” said Sir Hurley.
“She mourned the death of her 73-year-old husband, but her first question was to find out how the needy Australians were doing.
“The care and compassion were sincere.”
Sir Hurley addressed the nation a day after Britain’s longest-lived monarch died at Balmoral, aged 96, after leading the Commonwealth for over 70 years.
He will now officially represent her eldest son and heir, King Charles III, in Canberra.
Sir Hurley said the Queen admired Australians’ easygoing attitude and sense of humour.
“Her visits and messages of support during good and difficult, sometimes tragic times were well received,” he said.
Sir Hurley said it was clear to him that while the Queen’s life had come to an end, “her example to all of us is not.”
“This example of selfless service, devotion to duty and compassion for others is a lasting legacy and a gift to all of us,” he said.
“She consistently demonstrated tireless and selfless service, devotion to duty and compassion for others.”
Sir Hurley said that these are the values that everyone should strive for.
He said many Australians have memories of one or more of the Queen’s 16 visits to Australia.
“I remember my mother telling me how she held me as a baby when Her Majesty’s motorcade passed by in 1954,” he said.
He said the Queen had witnessed “the growth and change of Australia” during her reign.
“Throughout this, Her Majesty has respected the will of the Australian people. She understood that we are on our own and that we control our destiny,” he said.
The Queen’s death will heighten calls for Australia to secede from the Commonwealth and become a republic with its own head of state after the death of a respected monarch.
The Australian Republican Movement (ARM) released its own statement expressing its condolences and acknowledging the Queen’s “significant contribution” to Australia.
ARM chairman Peter FitzSimons said the country prospered during her reign and said it was “unlikely that we will ever again see a monarch whom the Australian people respect or admire”.
The organization suggested that the death of a beloved monarch was a time to renew calls for Australian independence, which it said the Queen herself had supported.
Anthony Albanese has confirmed that he and Sir Hurley will travel to London in the coming days to attend the Queen’s funeral and meet the new king.
Events marking the Queen’s death will take place over the next two weeks as the Prime Minister and Governor General carry out a long-standing plan.