Queen Elizabeth II arrives in Australia for 15th visit

Monday, March 13, 2006

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip arrived in Australia yesterday for a five-day tour which includes the opening of the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, the Queen's 15th visit of her reign and her first since 2002.

Their tour began when they landed at Fairburn Air Force Base in Canberra where they received a state welcome, attended by Prime Minister John Howard, Governor-General Major General Michael Jeffery and several hundred well-wishers. The couple accepted flowers and chatted with the crowd for a few minutes before being driven off in a black Rolls Royce.

The Queen and Prince Philip spent last night at Government House before beginning official duties in Sydney today. In Sydney, they will officially open the new colonnade of Sydney Opera House and receive a 21 gun salute.

Republican campaigners have used the occasion as an opportunity to reopen the republican debate.

"While the queen is held in great affection by the Australian people, many Australians recognize that it is no longer sensible for us to have a citizen of another country, who visits Australia only occasionally, as our head of state," said Allison Henry, national director of the Australian Republican Movement.