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Sunday, 26 March, 2000, 08:10 GMT
Royal aborigine apology urged
Queen guard
Queen inspects the new Australian Federation Guard
A leading Australian politician is calling on the Queen to apologise to aborigines for their past treatment by British colonists.

The controversial call for an apology was made by Australian Democrats leader Meg Lees.

She said it would be fair for the British Government to advise the Queen to say sorry to aborigines for the decimation of aboriginal communities during colonisation.

Buckingham Palace has deflected responsibility.



Listening to her comments since she has been out here and the fact that she is acknowledging the enormous disadvantage suffered by aboriginal Australians, I think it would be something that she may find quite easy to do

Meg Lees
A Palace spokesman said: "This is very much a matter for the Australian authorities."

Mrs Lees said: "It has been raised recently with us that perhaps others should also apologise.

"And we see the Queen visiting now, after all the colonising country at the time was Britain so perhaps if others were to say sorry we might get our Prime Minister thinking again."

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard has held back from apologising to aborigines, expressing "regret" instead.

Mrs Lees said she had pushed Mr Howard as far as she could on the issue and apologies from others, such as the Queen, might help the cause.

"Indeed, listening to her comments since she has been out here and the fact that she is acknowledging the enormous disadvantage suffered by aboriginal Australians, I think it would be something that she may find quite easy to do."


Queen apology
Queen urged to say sorry
The Queen acknowledged the aborigines' plight, at the beginning of her 16-day Australian tour in Sydney last Monday.

She said: "It remains a sad fact of life that many indigenous Australians face a legacy of economic and social disadvantage."

Morning prayers

Around 2,000 people cheered and clapped the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh when they attended morning prayers at St John The Baptist Anglican Church in Canberra.

The Queen was handed scores of bouquets as she went on a short Royal walkabout in the bright sunshine outside the church.

Before going to church, the Queen inspected a guard of honour from the newly-formed Australia's Federation Guard.

The unit, drawn from the army, navy and air force, hopes to stand guard at Buckingham Palace during Australia Week in July when leading Australian politicians will visit London to mark the centenary of Australia's nationhood.

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See also:

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