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The Queen Still Pulls A Crowd

The Queen attracted three times as many people outside St Paul's Church in Canberra on Sunday than in 1988, when she last attended a service there. John Howard reports.

More than 400 people lined the barriers of the church grounds where the Queen was attending a Sunday service while the church was also packed inside.

The Queen, seemingly delighted, went on an impromptu walkabout chatting to people, including one 73-year-old woman who had come from Junee in rural NSW, 250 kilometres away.

Norma Higginson said, " We are the silent majority pointing to a badge which read "Vote no for this republic" which she wore during November's constitutional referendum campaign.

Mrs Higginson told reporters " I am delighted to see my favourite lady. She has done the right thing over all these years - 48 since her Coronation."

"Welcome to Australia, Your Majesty, I hope it won't be too hot for you," Higginson told the Queen.

The sounds of Australian native wildlife played on a digeridoo by a young aboriginal who learned his craft practising on a vacuum cleaner pipe greeted the Queen as she arrived at the church.

Robert Slockee of the Walbunga tribe from the NSW south coast said," I played an array of animals from around Australia including the crocodile, kookaburra, and brolga. It was an honour to do it for the lady."

Prince Philip later asked how he learnt to play.

" I let him know I learnt to play on a vacuum cleaner pipe when I was a kid and he said to me that he hoped it wasn't turned on," Mr Slockee said.

The Queen also heard the aboriginal hymn, Garray Jesu Marrkapmir, sung by 400 worshippers who packed the inside of the church.

Obviously referring to the Republican issue Prime Minister John Howard said " I am quite certain that she understands that the world is very different, probably better than people who raise those issues."

Monarchists, led by Howard, won the November referendum against a republic with 55 percent of the vote, largely because many Australians rejected the alternative - a president elected by parliament rather than by popular vote.


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