The sound of gunshots rang out over Canberra at dusk on Friday following the death of the commonwealth’s longest-serving monarch.
The RAAF, Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army personnel who make up the nation’s Federation Guard gathered outside Parliament House to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth 11.
They fired 96 rounds — one to mark each year of the Queen’s life.
The Australian Defence Force lent six M2A2 105mm Howitzer Ceremonial Guns for the 96-gun salute, which began about 5pm in front of a crowd of people who watched on, looking down the hill towards Old Parliament House.
All 54 commonwealth countries have been invited to take part in the same ceremony, following the British tradition of firing one round for each year of the Queen’s life.
Defence Minister Richard Marles said the department had a long, proud association with the monarch.
She visited Australia on 16 occasions and held a number of honorary military appointments with the Australian Defence Force.
Mr Marles said the Queen had dedicated her life to serving “the entire commonwealth”, leaving a legacy that would be remembered for generations to come.
“During her reign, the Queen exemplified a life of duty and sacrifice, ever resilient in the face of adversity, and dedicated to the peace and prosperity of the Commonwealth,” Mr Marles said.
“Her reign was the longest of any monarch in British history and it is an honour for the Australian Defence Force to contribute to marking her passing.”
Australian War Memorial director Matt Anderson said he was also mourning her death.
“I was deeply saddened to wake up to the news; her passing will be a great shock and unsettling to many,” Mr Anderson said.
“We were honoured to welcome her to the Australian War Memorial on numerous occasions.
“During these visits the Queen laid wreaths, toured our galleries, met with Australian Victoria Cross recipients and greeted the crowds of visitors who gathered here to catch a glimpse of her.”
Australia’s Federation Guard will perform other duties over the coming fortnight to mark the death of the Queen and the proclamation of her son Charles as the new King.
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