Australian travel industry braces for ‘influx’ as royalists plan to attend Queen Elizabeth’s funeral | Australia news

The Australian travel industry says it is bracing itself for an ‘influx’ of Australians who decide to travel to London to attend Queen Elizabeth’s funeral.

Guardian Australia understands that the few remaining Qantas seats from Australian capitals to London have been quickly booked since news of the Queen’s death. Peter Hosper, the commercial director of Travel Authority Group, said his agency was preparing for more questions on Monday.

David Goldman, Goldman Travel’s joint director in Bondi Junction, said he had received inquiries from Australians wishing to be in London, whether or not they had previously booked a trip.

“People want to be there. They want to be connected,” Goldman said.

He said one of his clients had paid a “fairly significant” amount to bring forward the date of his trip from Australia to the UK in order to attend the funeral.

Monarchist and political student Alex Readman, 23, said he was one of the Australians who wanted to go to London for the Queen’s funeral.

People watch floral tributes for Queen Elizabeth II at Government House in Sydney.
People watch floral tributes for the Queen at Government House in Sydney. Photo: Jenny Evans/Getty Images

Being at Westminster Hall when the Queen lay in state, he offered a chance to fulfill his wish “to have some sort of connection to her legacy”.

However, Readman said that, despite his deep respect for the Queen, the post-pandemic price of flights had proved prohibitive to his budget.

Alex Readman for his framed letter from the Queen and the Governor General
Alex Readman for his framed letter from the Queen and the Governor General. Photo: Alex Readman

Readman said when he looked up flights to London before the pandemic, they had been around $1,500, but the only flights he could find this weekend had a $5,000 price tag.

Readman’s earliest memory of the Queen was writing a letter to her, aged seven, expressing concern about the Australian government’s response to the drought.

“I vividly remember getting a letter in the mail and on the back of the letter it was sealed with the Royal Mail stamp, and it was in this beautiful letter, and it had all these stamps and markings on it, because there went from the UK to Australia, and it was from Her Majesty the Queen’s Secretary of State,” Readman said.

Members of the public sign a book of condolence for the late Queen Elizabeth II at the Government House of Western Australia.
Members of the public sign a condolence register at Government House in Perth. Photo: Matt Jelonek/Getty Images

Dozens of bunches of flowers were left outside Melbourne’s Government House on Saturday as well-wishers wrote their condolences and paused to pay tribute to the monarch.

Similar scenes took place in Sydney and other state capitals. Some brought large, professionally wrapped bouquets of flowers, while others had bunches of homegrown flowers secured with ribbon or tape.

Sandra Alexandridis, of Reservoir, burst into tears outside the makeshift monument in Melbourne when she remembered the Queen.

“She was a rock in society,” she said. “It’s like you’ve lost your grandmother, a relative.

“She’s always made us feel comfortable and that’s something you cherish because not many people – not even politicians – have that.”

Andrea Westh, from Middle Park, was a baby in her mother’s arms when she was taken to central London in 1953 to see the Queen’s coronation.

“She’s been like my grandmother, my spiritual leader,” she said.

Westh, a devoted royalist who hopes to travel to the UK with her husband to attend King Charles’ coronation, said she had always admired the new monarch as a long-standing champion of climate action.

Wendy Simpson, who came to lay flowers for the Queen at Government House in Sydney, said she had considered attending the Queen’s funeral but her husband had declined.

Members of the public pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II at the Government House of Victoria in Melbourne.
Members of the public pay tribute to the Queen at Melbourne’s Government House. Photo: Diego Fedele/Getty Images

Simpson said she came to lay flowers for the Queen because “when I was growing up I was in the Girl Guides. And we talked a lot about the Queen, she was a Girl Guide. And then we had the picture of the Queen in our class .”

She said she was also there to represent her 90-year-old mother, who had suffered a stroke and was unable to pay tribute herself.

“As a woman, I’m very inspired by the Queen.”

Jenny Collins brought flowers to her six-year-old daughter Scarlett at Government House in Sydney.

“The Queen is a great role model, especially for our girls. They will now know a king forever, and we grew up with the queen.”

Jenny Collins brought her 6 year old daughter Scarlett to lay flowers so she would have something to remember the Queen by.

“The Queen an amazing role model, especially for our girls. They'll know a king forevermore now, and we grew up with the queen.” pic.twitter.com/NhE7LYPux1

— Natasha May (@natasha__may) September 10, 2022

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Jenny Collins brought her 6-year-old daughter Scarlett to lay flowers so she would have something to remember the Queen.

“The Queen is a great role model, especially for our girls. They will now know a king forever, and we grew up with the queen.’ pic.twitter.com/NhE7LYPux1

— Natasha May (@natasha__may) September 10, 2022

Alexander Hartnell, 31, said he was a Republican but the issue of constitutional change was “a question for another time”.

He came to pay his respects after seeing how moved the people were by the death of the Queen.

“I could see the genuine sadness on people’s faces and it was the end of the 20th century for a lot of people,” he said.

Australian Associated Press contributed to this report

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