Ben Roberts Smith, a former US Special Forces corporal and veteran of Afghanistan, paid tribute to the Queen whom he met several times.
Mr Roberts Smith, 43, was invited to the funeral because he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
On Saturday he spoke for the first time about the Queen he knows and how sad he was to hear of her passing.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Her Majesty, I had the greatest respect for her and she was a person whom I greatly respected,” said Mr. Roberts-Smith.
“In every interaction I had with the Queen she was warm, insightful and engaging.
“She was a wonderful king, a stoic leader, and most importantly, she was just a beautiful lady.
“I feel very proud to have been fortunate enough to pay my respects to the Queen and my humility because she saw fit to include the recipient of the Victoria Cross in her funeral procession.”
The Ministry of Defense confirmed that the Victoria Cross and George Cross Society had invited all Victoria Cross bearers to attend the Queen’s funeral as well as to lie in state, “in accordance with Her Majesty’s wishes”.
Besides Mr Roberts Smith, three recipients of military honors, Keith Payne, Mark Donaldson and Daniel Keegran, have been invited to Monday’s funeral at Westminster Abbey and are expected to take part in the equestrian procession.
Mr. Roberts Smith has met Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II on several occasions.
He and the other guests did not travel to the UK on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Royal Air Force One.
Instead, he arrived at Heathrow on a commercial flight this week, and headed for a taxi rank after his driver failed to show up.
Mr Albanese, who arrived in London on Saturday morning Australian time, will bring nine “regular citizens” of Australia – including Australian Dylan Alcott, Sydney’s father and activist Danny Abdullah.
Mr. Roberts Smith and other holders of Australian venture capital were asked separately by the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association.
The Queen has been patron of the Society since its inception in 1956, and has personally requested that all living members be invited to her funeral.
Australia prepares to say goodbye
Australia is preparing to bid farewell to the Queen.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s first full day in London will be devoted to bidding farewell to Australia’s beloved monarch.
Early on Saturday Australian time, he and partner Jodi Haydon laid a bouquet at Buckingham Palace, and later in the day he will join nine daily Australians representing the country to view the casket of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Hall, having received special access as VIP guests. .
“Her Majesty the Queen has held a very special place in the hearts of so many Australians,” he said.
“Queen Elizabeth has given a life of service and dignity and Australians honor her service, honor her memory and thank her for her dedication to duty.
“When you arrive in London, you can see and feel the emotion that Her Majesty carries, and I am honored to be here representing Australia as Prime Minister.
“During this visit I will meet King Charles and convey my condolences on behalf of all Australians for the loss of the King and of course the loss of his mother.”
Later, Mr. Abanese, after only four months as prime minister, is scheduled to meet with King Charles III.
He is also expected to join Governor General David Hurley to sign a book of condolences at Lancaster House.
Mr Albanese is due to meet Britain’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss for the first time later today, Australian time, at the government’s residence in Chevening, Kent.
At a state memorial lunch at Australia’s home last night, the Prime Minister said the Queen and Australia share a mutual love.
“When it came to the relationship between Queen Elizabeth II and Australia, 16 was her real number,” he said.
During her 70-year reign, she consulted with 16 Australian Prime Ministers, beginning with Sir Robert Menzies. Sixteen Governor-Generals, beginning with Sir William Mackell.
And 16 visits to our shores, which began with a 58-day tour that saw 68 towns and cities, and pass through many others. You got to know us, you appreciate us, you embrace us.
“The feeling was pretty much mutual.
Along the way, Her Majesty had one of the most Australian experiences ever – sitting next to Bob Hawk at the races when his horse was winning.
“The image of these two experts out of the lawn at that moment is a perfect study in poise—the Queen is sitting quietly, Bob scurrying off like fireworks in a suit.
Bob was criticized, but as he later said: ‘I was very pleased shortly thereafter to point out a picture of the Queen showing similar glee when one of her horses won in England. “
Mr. Albanese said the Queen enjoyed a bipartisan affection.
“The Queen has crossed the barriers. She could be a republic, and you still feel nothing but respect for her,” she said.
“You celebrated our happy times, stood with us in our times of distress, and brought sympathy and comfort when it was most needed.
In 2002 I stated this way: ‘I declare once again… that my admiration, affection and respect for the people of Australia will remain as it were… unwavering, emphatic and true.’ “
“We felt the same way. Since that first visit, the Queen has had a special place in Australian hearts. She always will.”
Seven Victoria Cross medalists and 10 George Cross Medal winners will attend the Queen’s funeral including one from New Zealand and four from Australia.
Former Corporal Ben Roberts Smith will join the nation’s most decorated contingent of military after the Queen expressed her wishes that Victorian Cross recipients Sir Roberts Smith, Keith Pine, Mark Donaldson, Daniel Keegran and George Cross bearer Michael Pratt be called to serve before her death.
Honored ex-soldiers, and Sir Pratt, a former police officer, will also attend the Queen’s Recess in State and some will form part of the Order of Chivalry, an honor guard for the Queen’s sarcophagus.
The nine Australians from all states and territories – there were 10 until champion horse trainer Chris Waller pulled out when a family member contracted Covid – arrived early Saturday Australian time on the prime minister’s private jet.
They include disabled tennis champion and Paralympian Dylan Alcott, i4give Day co-founder and Danny Abdullah, who lost three of his six children when a drunk and drugged driver mowed them down.
The Queen’s horse trainer Jay Waterhouse, who boarded a last-minute flight with “regular” citizens on Mr Albanese’s RAAF when it was unable to get a commercial flight, and who was invited to the funeral by Lord Chamberlain, Andrew Parker, said: It is a great honor to travel with the Prime Minister to attend and we give thanks for being so blessed to have known the Queen.
“The funeral will be an occasion like no other and the representation of my country will be remembered just as well as hers.
“I had the privilege of training for the Queen Mother and the Queen. Both were very passionate racing fans, and both were generous and kind to both of us.
“We loved afternoon tea at Ascot with them. I very much enjoyed our regular telephone conversations, and the Queen had a wonderful sense of humour.”
She continued, “My Carlton House (stallion) has won more prize money for Her Majesty than all the other runners I put together that year.
“You trained Sweet Idea, Her Majesty’s best incubator.”
Originally published as The Queen’s Funeral: Ben Roberts Smith Breaks the Silence; Australia prepares to bid farewell led by Prime Minister