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THE Queen has touched down for possibly her last Australian tour.

| 20.10,11. 01:59 AM |


THE Queen has touched down for possibly her last Australian tour


October 20, 2011

The monarch, dressed in an aqua blue knee-length suit, emerged from a British Airways Boeing 777 to be greeted by an all-female team of Australian leaders in Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Governor-General Quentin Bryce and ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher.

Ms Bryce chose a hot pink formal outfit, including hat, and curtseyed, while Ms Gillard was without a hat or gloves.

A large group of schoolchildren was also on hand to greet the Queen, among them seven-year-old Hannah Hawkins from the Canberra suburb of Lyons. For her, the chance to greet the Queen had special family significance.

"My Nanna got invited to dance for the Queen and never got to go so it is completing a circle," Hannah's mother Anastasia said.

"Nanna told me about it when I was Hannah's age.

"She would have had to travel by herself to England and her mother wasn't keen."

Bateau Bay woman Margaret Cunningham also had her own special history, presenting the Queen with a bouquet of Australian flowers, 57 years after doing the same thing as a child when the Queen visited Australia for the first time.

"I said it was lovely to see her after all these years," a delighted Ms Cunningham said after the meeting.

The Queen spent 10 minutes shaking hands with children and taking flowers while Prince Philip traded jokes about them "escaping from school".

Ms Gillard, who has voiced support for a republic at the end of Queen Elizabeth II's reign, was joined by other prominent republicans in welcoming the visit yesterday.

"While the Queen is in Australia, what Australians will be doing is welcoming and celebrating," she said.

"I believe that she is very well respected by Australians and she is going to be tremendously warmly received from the moment she sets foot on Australian soil."

The Queen spent last night at Government House, where she will meet with Ms Bryce this morning, followed by a visit to Floriade. Tomorrow, she will meet with Ms Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott followed by a reception for hundreds in the Great Hall.


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