Aboriginal leader breaks down in tears as he recalls palace meeting with the Queen

·4 min read

Watch: Aboriginal leader breaks down when recalling meeting with the Queen

This is the moment an Aboriginal leader broke down in tears when recalling a meeting with the Queen two decades ago.

Aboriginal elder Patrick Lionel Djargun Dodson was speaking to Australian TV channel ABC's The Queen And Us documentary, broadcast in the wake of her death last Thursday at the age of 96.

Dodson, an elder of the Yawuru people, was part of an Aboriginal delegation that met the Queen at Buckingham Palace in London in 1999.

The meeting came ahead of a referendum in Australia on whether it should become a republic. In the end, the vote was defeated by 55% to 45%.

(ABC)
Aboriginal elder Patrick Lionel Djargun Dodson recalls meeting the Queen. (ABC)

Dodson told the documentary: "We got in there and we were totally disarmed.

"It's a funny thing, to feel a bit emotional about it, because she was so welcoming.

"And she thanked us for coming. I think for the first time in our lives, we were treated properly.

"She treated us as human beings."

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Dodson is now a politician, serving as a senator for the Australian Labor Party since 2016.

After Labor's victory in this year's federal election, Dodson was appointed special envoy for reconciliation and implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart by prime minister Anthony Albanese.

The Ulruru Statement from the Heart is a 2017 petition by Aboriginal leaders to change the country's constitution to improve the representation of indigenous Australians.

Pro-Republican Aborigine leaders outside Buckingham Palace in London, where they met with The Queen. (L-R) Professor Marcia Langton, Dr Lowitja O'Donoghue, Patrick Dodson, Gatjil Djerrukura and Peter Yu, are backing moves for constitutional change.  * ahead of the referendum  on the future of the monarchy.   (Photo by Matthew Fearn - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Aboriginal leaders, including Patrick Lionel Djargun Dodson, centre, outside Buckingham Palace, where they met the Queen in 1999. (PA Images via Getty Images)
Patrick Dodson, Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation speaks with the media before meeting with The Queen at Buckingham Palace. Campaigners have backed moves for constitutional change ahead of the referendum on the future of the monarchy.   (Photo by Matthew Fearn - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Patrick Lionel Djargun Dodson speaks to the media before meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 1999. (PA Images via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Albanese has faced backlash from Australian businesses after he announced a one-off bank holiday to mark a national day of mourning for the Queen.

He said on Sunday that Australia will observe a bank holiday on 22 September following the Queen’s funeral three days earlier.

The news quickly drew criticism from healthcare professionals, who say the short-notice nature of the bank holiday will cause huge disruption to their sector, where consultations and operations are arranged weeks and sometimes months in advance.

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The Australia Medical Association president Steve Robson tweeted: "Operations and lots of patient consultations booked that day, at a time when access is difficult. Thanks for dropping this at short notice.

"It's very difficult to staff hospitals and practices at the best of times now. An unanticipated public holiday will make it very difficult to staff hospitals and clinics."

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said it respected the decision of the federal government to "honour the passing of Queen Elizabeth II with a one-off public holiday", but the unplanned nature of the bank holiday would create disruption for many businesses and impact them financially.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 11: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese attends the proclamation ceremony of King Charles III at Parliament House on September 11, 2022 in Canberra, Australia. Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland aged 96 on September 8, 2022, and is survived by her four children, Charles, Prince of Wales, Anne, Princess Royal, Andrew, Duke Of York and Edward, Duke of Wessex. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born in Bruton Street, Mayfair, London on 21 April 1926. She married Prince Philip in 1947 and acceded the throne of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth on 6 February 1952 after the death of her Father, King George VI. Queen Elizabeth II was the United Kingdom's longest-serving monarch. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)
Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese attends the proclamation ceremony of King Charles III at Parliament House in Canberra on Sunday. (Getty Images)
An image of Britain's Queen Elizabeth is illuminated on the sail of Sydney Opera House, following the Queen's passing, in Sydney, Australia, September 9, 2022. REUTERS/Jaimi Joy     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
An image of the Queen is illuminated on the sail of Sydney Opera House after her death. (Reuters)

ARA chief executive Paul Zahra said: "This event will create some complications for businesses with store closures and staff scheduling challenges, with many rosters set up weeks in advance.

"There will also be a small but unexpected loss of trade, and additional staffing costs, which may impact cashflows for small businesses."

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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, a building that Her Majesty helped open in 1973, were lit up with the Queen's image on Friday and Saturday as the world continued to mourn.

Watch: World leaders pay tribute to the Queen