Union Jack set on fire while Australia marks national day of mourning for Queen

A Union Jack flag was lit by protesters as Australia marked a national day of mourning for the late Queen.

A memorial service in celebration of Her Majesty’s life – a “one-off” public holiday announced by the Prime Minister after her death – was held in Canberra on Thursday, as anti-monarchy demonstrations took place in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and the US Capital city.

Ahead of the memorial service at Canberra’s Parliament building, footage was shared on social media showing the Union Jack being burned in a park in Melbourne – the starting point for a lunchtime march to abolish the monarchy.


Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has recently returned from the Queen’s funeral (David Parry Media Assignments/PA)

A journalist from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) also shared video of an Australian flag being set on fire in Brisbane as the crowd chanted: “Always was, always will be Aboriginal land”.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Governor-General David Hurley, who recently returned from the Queen’s funeral, were joined in Canberra by heads of state and territories, ministers, former ministers, ambassadors, chief justices and former governors-general.

After a minute’s silence and the singing of the Advance Australia Fair national anthem, Hurley called the day of mourning a day of sadness but “also a day of reflection.” He went on to acknowledge that the country’s indigenous people were “shaped by colonial history.”

“Given the unifying role played by Her Majesty, I would acknowledge that her death has provoked mixed reactions from some in our community. I consciously respect that many First Nations Australians who have been shaped by colonial history have made a journey of reconciliation. This is a journey we must take as a nation,” the governor general told mourners.

Her (Majesty’s) death has provoked mixed reactions from some in our community. I consciously respect that many First Nations Australians who have been shaped by colonial history have made a journey of reconciliation.Governor General David Hurley

“And so, in relation to her legacy to us in Australia, I have wondered if the unprecedented response of the last 13 days was just a moment, a unique response fueled by Her Majesty’s remarkable life, longevity and service, or is there a greater lesson to be learned? I would suggest that a lesson can be found for us by being both thoughtful and forward-looking in our reflections, looking back and admiring and looking ahead and reflecting.”

In his speech, Mr Albanese said the Queen had sought to understand Australia during her 16 trips to the nation during her 70-year reign.

“Monuments to the Queen shape our landscape. The name Elizabeth lives in almost every city and town. Perhaps the greatest tribute we can pay to her family and memory is not a marble statue or metal plaque. It is a renewed embrace of service to the community. A truer understanding of our duty to others. A stronger obligation of respect for all,” said the Prime Minister.

“This would be a most fitting memorial to a great life of service to others. May Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II rest in eternal peace.”

Meanwhile, organizers of the Melbourne rally, which included Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) and the group Fighting in Solidarity Towards Treaties (FISTT), called for the abolition of the monarchy and an end to the “racist, colonial imperialism” that has ruled the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

“As they mourn the Queen, we mourn everything her regime has stolen from us: our children, our country, the lives of our loved ones, our holy sites, our history,” WAR said in a statement.

“We oppose racist colonial imperialism and its enduring impact on us as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents.

“We stand in solidarity and anger with other peoples around the world who have been oppressed, murdered, enslaved and defamed under British colonialism. We don’t want to be part of the stolen (common) wealth.”

FISTT spokeswoman and New South Wales Green Party candidate Lynda-June Coe called the sudden declaration of a day of mourning for the late monarch “a genuine insult to First Nations people”.

The Wiradjuri and Badu Island woman told the ABC that since the Queen’s death, “Indigenous people’s reactions and experiences to colonization and dispossession” have been silenced and erased.


King Charles III met with Anthony Albanese before the Queen’s funeral (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“Our mob has been demanding recognition of our day of mourning for over 80 years, since 1938,” she said. “It really shows that there are two sides to this story and unfortunately ours continues to be completely silenced and obliterated.”

In Adelaide, a protester was ejected from Government House for holding up a sign and writing “Abolish the Monarchy” in one of the Queen’s books of condolence. Footage shared by 7News Adelaide showed the man being escorted from the scene by three police officers.

Despite considerable pressure to do so in Australia’s recent history, no treaty has been negotiated between First Nations peoples. Australia is the only former British nation not to have ratified a treaty with its indigenous peoples – which would require the government to legitimize the indigenous nations as separate from the nation of Australia. Union Jack set on fire while Australia marks national day of mourning for Queen

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