Australia welcomes Queen's visit

24th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Australia Saturday welcomed next month's visit by Queen Elizabeth II to an area affected by this year's huge floods, with Queensland Premier Anna Bligh saying it will boost those hit by the disaster.

The October 19-29 tour by the Queen and her husband Prince Philip, announced by Buckingham Palace Friday, includes Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, where thousands of homes were flooded in January and more than 30 people died.

Bligh said the visit was "great news" for Queensland, where the deluge of water was followed almost immediately by destructive Cyclone Yasi.

"I'm sure there are many people who've had a tough 2011 and having a visit from the reigning monarch will mean a lot to a lot of Queenslanders," she said.

The Queen's grandson Prince William toured disaster-affected communities in Queensland and southern Victoria, which also suffered major flooding, in March.

"I know Prince William's visit really gave people a shot in the arm after the terrible disasters that we had and I'm sure that people will feel the same when they see Queen Elizabeth here," Bligh said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard also welcomed the monarch's 10-day visit for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth on October 28-30, which will also see her go to Melbourne and Canberra.

Queen Elizabeth, 85, is head of state of 16 Commonwealth realms, including Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Jamaica.

The visit to Australia will be the couple's 16th, the first coming in 1954 and the latest in 2006 for the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

"Visits by the Queen are etched into the collective memory of the Australian people," Gillard said in a statement.

"Many Australians can recall Her Majesty's previous visits as landmarks in their own lives," she said.

© 2011 AFP

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