Australia pledges to Queen Elizabeth's trust for jubilee

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Australia said Tuesday there was "nothing valedictory" in its diamond jubilee celebrations for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, its head of state, as it pledged Aus$5 million to her legacy trust.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the 85-year-old queen was a revered figure in Australia where tens of thousands turned out to welcome her last year during a tour to coincide with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

"There's nothing valedictory in our diamond jubilee celebrations, nor should there be," Gillard told parliament.

Australia's relationship with the monarchy was tested in 1999 when the former penal colony held a referendum on whether to sever ties with Britain.

A majority of voters ultimately rejected the proposal for Australia to become a republic, but the issue flares up from time to time, particularly ahead of royal visits and events.

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday launched the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, chaired by former prime minister John Major and designed to pay enduring tribute to the queen by providing grants to charities.

As well as pledging $5.4 million to the trust, Gillard also confirmed heir to the throne Prince Charles and his wife Camilla will visit Australia later this year as part of celebrations of Queen Elizabeth's 60-year reign.

A road in Canberra's parliamentary zone will be renamed Queen Elizabeth Terrace, she said.

The prime minister will light a Jubilee Beacon on Parliament House on 4 June, as celebrations culminate in London, and Australia will also issue a jubilee stamp and the Royal Mint a jubilee coin.

Queen Elizabeth II on Monday marked six decades since she rose to the British throne with visits to a town hall and a school in eastern England, in a low-key start to five months of diamond jubilee festivities.

The queen became monarch at the age of 25 following the sudden death of her father King George VI.