Wheelchair tennis legend Dylan Alcott is among a small and distinguished group of Australians to be honoured with an invite to Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.
The 96-year-old figurehead died late last week, with tribute’s to Britain’s longest reigning monarch being held around the world.
Alcott has been selected among a group of 10 Australian non-dignitaries to attend the Westminster Abbey service for the late Queen on Monday.
The 31-year-old – who was named the 2022 Australian of the Year – retired from tennis after finishing runner-up at the Australian Open in January.
Alcott left an incredible legacy on tennis, capped by his historic golden slam in 2021.
The 31-year-old won all four grand slams as well as gold at the Tokyo Paralympics to forever etch his name in the history books.
Alcott famously made the late Queen giggle during a Zoom call after being bestowed with his Australian of the Year honour.
Joining him from the sporting world at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral will be champion racehorse trainer Chris Waller, the man behind the legendary Winx.
Waller looked after many of the Queen’s horses and built a close relationship with her over the years.
“She was very normal and made you feel very comfortable,” he told Nine’s Today Show.
The remaining eight Australians to attend the royal service will be announced later on Tuesday.
The 10 will represent Australia at the funeral alongside Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his partner Jodie Haydon, Governor-General David Hurley and his wife Linda, and acting high commissioner to the UK Lynette Wood.
RSL Australia president Greg Melick will attend on behalf of the organisation, of which the Queen was a patron.
“For the past seven decades, every person who enlisted in the Australian Defence Force swore an oath to serve Queen Elizabeth II and her heirs and successors so it is fitting we are now able to personally express our condolences,” he said.
The Queen’s sudden death has seen sporting codes around the world pausing to honour her memory, while many others, particularly throughout the UK, have been postponed entirely.
A minute’s silence has been observed at sporting events around the world, with the NRL and AFL finals among those competitions where players and fans have paid their respects.
Controversy erupts in AFLW after backflip over Queen tributes
However, the AFLW controversially backflipped over planned tributes to the Queen over the weekend, because it was incongruous with the Indigenous Round that was being celebrated.
The decision caused a backlash among some observers, however, Western Bulldogs director Belinda Duarte explained that commemorating the Queen’s legacy “unearthed deep wounds” among Indigenous people.
“While for many Australians it’s seen as appropriate to recognise the significance of the Queen’s passing, we must understand what this brings up for First Peoples, the impact of colonisation and what the monarchy represents to us and our families,” Duarte said.
Veteran AFL reporter Caroline Wilson told Channel Nine’s Footy Classified on Monday night that AFL bosses never should have organised tributes to the Queen during Indigenous Round in the first place.
“The AFL badly botched the tribute to Queen Elizabeth, where its women’s competition was concerned,” Wilson said.
“At Friday night’s Bulldogs-Fremantle clash, the pre-game one-minute silence for the late monarch did not sit comfortably for some of Australia’s First Peoples, given as it followed so immediately after the Acknowledgment of Country, to open the AFLW Indigenous Round.
“So the remaining one-minute silences were scrapped for the rest of the women’s round, a move which in turn incensed a number of football supporters and became a headline by Saturday morning.
“Not only did it take away from a moving and stirring tribute at the MCG on Friday night for the men’s semi-final, but it turned a tide of public opinion against the women footballers, unfairly.
“It was divisive and it needn’t have happened.
“Why the AFL boss or bosses who made this call didn’t take into account the sensitivities of the women’s Indigenous Round and only hold the one-minute silence for the men’s competition in the first place is beyond me.
“It was a public relations mess, and it was upsetting for many people on both sides.
“No wonder no one has put their hand up to take responsibility.”