The Queen displayed a “cheeky” sense of humor when she met virtually with several Australians of the Year and the country’s governor general during her platinum jubilee celebrations.
During the Zoom call with the six Australians, which included the recently retired wheelchair tennis player Dylan Alcott, the 96-year-old monarch remarked on the “splendid” technology that enabled the virtual meeting.
The call, which took place on 9 May but was only made public on Saturday, began with the governor-general of Australia, David Hurley, noting it was 34 years since she had opened Parliament House in Canberra.
“Oh!” the 96-year-old remarked in surprise before recalling “that bit of water”, referring to the lobby’s water feature.
“That little pond inside intrigued me very much indeed. I wondered how many people had fallen in it,” she joked, smiling broadly.
It was not clear whether she knew that in the three decades since its creation, the feature – known as the Pool of Reflection – has become notorious in Canberra for causing such incidents.
After the call, Dr. Daniel Nour, the Young Australian of the Year who started a GP medical service for homeless people, said he loved the Queen’s sense of humor.
“She’s cheeky. I love that she’s cheeky,” Nour added. “She had a cheeky smile … and was so down to earth and lovely.”
The broadcast to mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee came the same day Australia’s recently elected prime minister, Anthony Albanese, renamed Aspen Island on Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin as Queen Elizabeth II Island.
On Saturday, in a ceremony that included the new Queen Elizabeth Water Gardens opening, Albanese said the monarch had made 14 trips to the nation’s capital during her reign – more than another royal.
Earlier this week, the Sydney Harbour Bridge was illuminated in purple to mark the platinum jubilee, days after the appointment of the country’s first minister tasked with overseeing Australia’s transition to a republic.
Matt Thistlethwaite was sworn in by the newly elected Labor government and said the occasion gave Australians food for thought about the country’s future.
“As the Queen comes to the twilight of her reign, we can appropriately – and we should – pay respect to her for the wonderful job that she’s done,” Thistlethwaite told the PA news agency.
“But Australians are now considering what comes next for our country. And I think it’s time that we start the serious conversation once again about what comes next for Australia after Queen Elizabeth’s reign ends.”
The new government has informally pledged to a referendum on a republic in its next term if it wins a second election.