The Australian Report 17/18


It was more than a delight to see not only the Royal wedding of Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle during the year, but also the wonderful showcase of St George’s Chapel and the pride it engendered in all the Friends living throughout Australia.

In the past year we said farewell to our only living Knight of the Garter, Sir Ninian Stephen, our former esteemed Governor-General and High Court Judge, at a State funeral in Melbourne attended by a core of Friends and Descendants, some of whom travelled from interstate and country Victoria. [His obituary was included in the 2016-17 issue of the Annual Review.]

Most of the social gatherings of the Friends are in Sydney and are managed by the Australia-Britain Society. There is some sharing of the net proceeds, to cover local costs of printing and postage of event flyers and an annual round-up of activities for the year.

Several tables of Friends joined in some wonderful gatherings that included a special Christmas luncheon held specially on the date of Her Majesty’s and The Duke of Edinburgh’s seventieth wedding anniversary, at which was received on the day a kind acknowledgement of the gathering and best wishes from our Sovereign. The Hon. Diana Fisher, daughter-in-law of the former Archbishop of Canterbury who crowned Her Majesty at the Coronation, spoke of her long involvement in reporting on Royal weddings.

Due to the conflicts of Anzac Day and Easter, usually around April, we have incorporated the St George’s Day celebration into The Queen’s Birthday dinner, which was held this year in June to enable his Excellency the Governor, General David Hurley, and Mrs Hurley to attend. The contingent of Friends included Dr Douglas Sturkey, the former Private Secretary to the Governor-General, who journeyed from Canberra for the evening; Jim Frecklington, a former member of the Royal Household, who designed and built the Australian coach on display at the Royal Mews, and the Fabergé style egg that was displayed at the Chelsea Flower Show; Mrs Valerie Grogan; and Rear Admiral Ross Swan. Ken Bock, the MC, proposed the toast to St George, with musical support from a concert pianist and two aspiring opera stars.

Hilary Kay from The Antiques Roadshow had the Friends enthralled at a wonderful luncheon, when she spoke about the operations of the show and answered many questions. Towards Christmas, Friends attended the Nine Carols and Lessons held at St James’ Church, modelled on the service from King’s College, Cambridge.

We are hopeful that members of the Royal family visiting Sydney and Melbourne in future years can extend their programmes to include special events with the Friends to support fund-raising for the Chapel. This has received positive support from Buckingham Palace, and hopefully will enable us to offer an attractive event to support the Chapel in conjunction with local Vice-Regal protocols.

Events over the Christmas period and New Year will include luncheons with the British Consul-General, Michael Ward, and Dr Brendan Nelson, the Curator of the Australian War Memorial. These are usually held at the Union, University and Schools Club in Bent Street, Sydney.

Friends in Australia, many of whom could not attend events, as well as those joining in the social programme, sent us donations that will be sent to Windsor shortly, totalling around $2,000, with a small retention for outgoings. For members’ interest, these aggregates were: Net proceeds from functions: $350.00; Donations of $1,950.00 (these included $375.00 from the Hilary Kay luncheon). The only operating costs are periodic printing and postage of an annual newsletter, totalling $488.20. Ken Bock, a Certified Practising Accountant as well as a Life Member Friend, has audited the records on a pro bono basis with our thanks.

A small supportive role is developing, where we are giving short presentations to various organisations on the life of Edward the Third, the Knights of the Garter and the Chapel development in the life of the church and Society at Windsor, now world-wide with the wonders of direct visual access.

Friends on email enable us to provide regular details without overheads; however, we have refrained from sending invitations to Sydney events to Friends not residing close to Sydney or Melbourne. The administration is done by Mrs Sue Labordus, and our appreciation is extended to her. Your interest and views on these functions is always welcomed, as well as the periodic donations we receive from Friends, many of whom are Life Members. Please contact Richard Nott, Robert Thomson or Sue Labordus by ‘phone or email if you have any enquiries, change of email or postal address details, or if you are visiting Australia. Thank you for your continuing support to such a wonderful part of our British legacy and to its continuance through the wonderful St George’s Chapel.



The Queen's Free Chapel. The Chapel of the Most Honourable and Noble Order of the Garter. The Chapel of the College of St George.