This week the itinerary for the Queen and Prince Philip’s upcoming royal tour to Australia was released amid rumors that due to her advancing age, this could be the Queen’s last visit to the country. The Telegraph reported that many Australians view the trip as a sort of “farewell tour” since it is rumored that the Queen will cut back on long-haul overseas visits after her Diamond Jubilee next year.
The Queen, at 85, and Prince Philip, at 90, will have a full schedule with significant engagements every day of their visit. Beginning October 19, highlights of the 11-day tour include a traditional Australian barbeque, a tram ride through Melbourne, a boat ride on the Brisbane River and meetings with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott. Prince Philip will attend a reception for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. The Queen will salute Australia’s military heritage during a visit to the Royal Military College at Duntroon and remember Australia’s veterans by laying a wreath at the Australian War Memorial. A visit with the victims of January’s flooding in Brisbane, where more than 30 people died, is planned. The tour will conclude in the Western Australian city of Perth, where the Queen will attend meetings at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), a three-day gathering of world leaders focusing on how to make the Commonwealth more relevant in today’s world. Finally, royal staff has assured the Queen and Prince Philip that their schedule is clear if England’s rugby team makes it to the Rugby World Cup final, so they can watch the match captained by their new grandson-in-law, Mike Tindall.
While this demanding schedule of engagements will be busy, the royal couple are said to be looking forward to the trip very much. Her Majesty has visited Australia 15 times, with her first visit occurring the year after her coronation in 1954. It was with this visit that the Queen became the first reigning monarch to visit Australia. During a 1970 visit to the country, the Queen changed royal protocol by conducting her first royal walkabout.
While it is understandable that the Queen and Philip would start reducing their annual engagements, it is hard to believe they would surrender the adventure and excitement of visiting well-loved Commonwealth nations like Australia. These countries and previous royal tours hold many fond memories for Her Majesty and Prince Philip, who, in spite of their advancing age, make a formidable team, dedicated to lifelong duty and unwavering service.