PERTH, Oct 27 – Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II kicked off the last leg of her successful 10-day antipodean tour on Thursday, visiting an Aboriginal college in Perth where students cooked kangaroo stew.
The monarch, 85, has been greeted by adoring crowds in Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane on her 16th trip to Australia, and experienced more of the same in Perth where she will open a Commonwealth summit on Friday.
On an overcast day, a large crowd gathered to see her motorcade sweep past and into the Clontarf Aboriginal College entrance for an appointment closed to the public.
While there, she watched basketballers and footballers in action, and students cooked kangaroo stew, although it was not clear whether the queen sampled the traditional Australian dish.
Three young football players presented the queen, dressed in a sky-blue outfit, with a football, while others handed her a bouquet of flowers, one of hundreds she has received from adoring onlookers since arriving Down Under.
Her Majesty has respectfully accepted the floral gifts wherever she has been, passing each bunch down a progression of staff members.
Her deputy press secretary, Ailsa Anderson, told reporters that while the queen keeps some of them, most have been donated to nursing homes and hospitals across the country.
“She keeps some of them, but most go to nursing homes and children’s hospitals, so that other people can benefit from the flowers that are given to the queen,” she said.
“They have been received very warmly.”
Coral Saunders was the first person to arrive to catch a glimpse of the monarch on her arrival at Perth airport Thursday afternoon, patiently waiting six hours to see her.
She said she loved the pomp and ceremony of the royal family and respected the queen.
“She is a great figurehead and really great lady,” the 55-year-old told reporters.
While the queen went to Clontarf, Prince Philip visited the University of Western Australia to witness some world-leading mining exploration technology from Rio Tinto.
He met the company’s chief executive Tom Albanese, who described the visit as “an honour”.
Later, they will attend a State Reception at Government House hosted by West Australian Premier Colin Barnett ahead of the queen officially opening the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on Friday.
Composed mainly of former British colonies and embracing some two billion citizens, the Commonwealth bloc will discuss reform and human rights over a three-day summit.
Also on the agenda will be revamping succession to the British throne.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has written to the leaders of the 15 other Commonwealth nations where the queen is head of state to propose allowing first-born daughters and heirs who marry Catholics to inherit the throne.
The issue has taken on new momentum since the marriage of Prince William, the Queen’s grandson, to Kate Middleton in April.
The royal couple leave Perth for London on Saturday, but not before heading to the Big Aussie Barbecue where the monarch is scheduled to address what are expected to be huge crowds.