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Queen Elizabeth II: Sisters Belinda de Corti and Jo Hawkins recall ‘amazing’ meeting with Queen in Geraldton

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Kate PurnellThe West Australian
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Sisters Belinda de Corti and Jo Hawkins meet Queen Elizabeth II in Geraldton in 1988.
Camera IconSisters Belinda de Corti and Jo Hawkins meet Queen Elizabeth II in Geraldton in 1988. Credit: Rod Taylor & Barry Baker/The West Australian

When sisters Belinda de Corti and Jo Hawkins were young girls they had the extraordinary experience of meeting Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to Geraldton in 1988.

More than three decades later, the West Australians said the encounter had a profound effect on their lives.

“We were so lucky to have that opportunity. She gave two little farm kids a chance, she gave us the time of day,” Ms de Corti said.

“For someone of her level and stature to do that was huge for us, two little girls. It was quite amazing.”

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The sisters, aged 5 and 7 at the time, travelled with their father almost two hours from the family farm in Mullewa to try and catch a glimpse of the Queen.

Buzzing with excitement to skip school and go on an adventure, the girls brought a hand-drawn Australian flag and some wildflowers wrapped in tinfoil to gift to Her Majesty.

Big crowds flocked to Geraldton’s Civic Centre to watch the Queen proclaim the town a city, but there was a barrier separating them.

Wanting to get a bit closer, the young girls were helped by their dad and ran under the rope barricade, presents in hand, and made a beeline for Her Majesty.

The girls sprinted as fast as they could, but only Ms Hawkins initially made it to the Queen.

Security nabbed a five-year-old Ms de Corti and she started to cry, however an unlikely source intervened.

Sisters Belinda deCorti and Joanne Hawkins met and chatted to the Queen in 1988 during her visit to Geraldton.
Camera IconSisters Belinda deCorti and Joanne Hawkins met and chatted to the Queen in 1988 during her visit to Geraldton. Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian

“Prince Philip saw me, pointed to the security guard and said ‘let that girl go, let that girl go!’ And the security guard listened,” she said.

The sisters remembered the Queen as kind-hearted as she openly accepted them when they ran over, thanked them for their gifts and spent time chatting with the children.

“I remember her being a really kind, lovely and gentle lady. She was very accommodating and happy to talk to all the kids,” Ms Hawkins said.

The Queen, who was known for her fondness for animals, also took particular interest in the girl’s pets.

“We told her about our pet emu and kangaroo on the farm and she couldn’t believe it,” Ms Hawkins said.

The sisters said they were mourning the death of the Queen and taking extra time to reflect on the special moment from their childhood.

“She was a great lady. Whether you support the monarchy or not, you have to admire her commitment to public life,” Ms de Corti said.

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