19 Oct 2011

The Queen begins tour of Australia

11:06 pm on 19 October 2011

The Queen has arrived in Canbarra for an 11-day tour of Australia.

The British monarch, accompanied her husband Prince Philip, was greeted by well-wishers at Fairbairn military airfield near Canberra on Wednesday. She will open a Commonwealth summit in Perth next week.

The royal couple will be based mainly in Canberra, Australia's capital, but will also visit Melbourne and Brisbane. It is the 16th time in the nearly 60 years of her reign that Queen Elizabeth II has visited the country.

Some in Australia believe it could be the last time she makes the long trip, based on the assumption that she is now 85 and Prince Philip is 90.

The Queen first went to Australia in 1954, but the BBC reports there is nothing to suggest that she regards this visit as her last.

The levels of support for the monarchy in Australia have never again matched those in the 1950s, but in 2011 it seems less threatened by Republican sentiments than at any time in the past two decades.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said the country should become a republic after the Queen's reign. However, Ms Gillard has also said that it would be an honour to welcome the Queen and Prince Philip back.

Meanwhile, police from across Australia and New Zealand have begun arriving in Perth ahead of the two-day Commomwealth Heads of Government beginning on 28 October.

More than 700 officers are expected to be flown to Perth to help Western Australian police coordinate security.