Australia declares a bank holiday for national day of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II

Australia declares a bank holiday for national day of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II

Australia will have a bank holiday to mark a national day of mourning for the late Queen following her state funeral.

Prime minister Anthony Albanese said he and governor-general David Hurley will travel to the UK in coming days to attend the funeral on September 19.

When they return to Canberra, a memorial service will held in parliament’s Great Hall on September 22 to commence the “one-off” bank holiday and national day of mourning, Mr Albanese said.

Mr Albanese pointed to attempts to achieve an Indigenous voice to parliament when asked if Australia’s link to the monarchy presented an “ongoing challenge” to achieving reconciliation with its First Nations people.

“I believe that the constitutional change that I have very clearly identified as my priority in this term of parliament is the recognition of First Nations people in our constitution,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Insiders programme on Sunday morning.

He said the constitution was Australia’s “national birth certificate”, adding: “This nation didn’t begin in 1788, it goes back some 65,000 years at least. It should be a great source of national pride that we live and share this continent with the oldest continuous civilisation and culture on the Earth.”

Memorial events have been held in recent days throughout Australia, which the Queen visited 16 times during her 70 years on the throne, with floral tributes springing up outside government buildings in Sydney and Canberra.

The sails of the Sydney Opera House, which Her Majesty helped open in 1973, were lit up with the Queen’s image on Friday and Saturday as the world continued to mourn.

Most of the events are being coordinated by federal authorities in the Australian Capital Territory.

Federal parliament, which had been due to return next week, has been suspended for at least 15 days.

Flags at Parliament House in Canberra were flown at half mast as a show of respect on Friday as the Australian Defence Force led a 96-gun salute at dusk, followed by an address to the nation by Mr Hurley that began at about 7pm (10am BST).

At the nearby Australian War Memorial, which the Queen visited during the first visit by a reigning monarch in 1954, “Queen Elizabeth II” was projected on to the Hall of Memory on Friday night.

Condolence books have been made available at Parliament House and Government House in Canberra.

Books are also open at government houses in each state, and online condolence forms have also been created on the governor-general and department of the prime minister and cabinet websites.