The special significance of a simple black ‘Akubra-style’ hat Shanna Whan wore to Queen’s funeral

The little-known significance of the simple black ‘Akubra-style’ hat an Australian woman wore to the Queen’s funeral – and the heartwarming story behind its creation

  • Ten Australians were invited to the Queen’s funeral in London on Monday
  • Danny Abdallah, who lost three of his children in a car crash was invited
  • Many Australian of the Year winners also attended, including Dylan Alcott
  • Founder of the Sober in the Country charity Shanna Whan also went
  • Ms Whan wore a hat made last-minute by milliner Fiona Schofield
  • It travelled from regional NSW to London with her to meet strict protocol 
  • The Queen’s funeral: All the latest Royal Family news and coverage

In honour of her regional Australian roots one of the Aussies selected to attend the Queen’s funeral wore a special black hat ‘shaped like an Akubra’ that was whipped up at the last-minute for the occasion.

Founder of the Sober in the Country charity, Shanna Whan, was selected to accompany Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in travelling to London for Queen Elizabeth II‘s funeral on Monday.

Last week Ms Whan posted a request to Facebook seeking help in sourcing an appropriate frock and hat to follow the strict dress code – with expert milliner Fiona Schofield heeding the call 250km away from Ms Whan’s home in central west NSW.

Neil Grigg, who designs hats for racing royalty Gai Waterhouse, also offered a custom-designed piece, which was worn by fellow Aussie in attendance, Saba Abraham.

Founder of the Sober in the Country charity, Shanna Whan, was selected to accompany Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in travelling to London for Queen Elizabeth II's funeral on Monday

Founder of the Sober in the Country charity, Shanna Whan, was selected to accompany Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in travelling to London for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Monday

In honour of her regional Australian roots one of the Aussies selected to attend the Queen's funeral wore a special black hat 'shaped like an Akubra' that was whipped up at the last-minute for the occasion (pictured with the other Aussies chosen to attend)

In honour of her regional Australian roots one of the Aussies selected to attend the Queen’s funeral wore a special black hat ‘shaped like an Akubra’ that was whipped up at the last-minute for the occasion (pictured with the other Aussies chosen to attend)

Last week Ms Whan posted a request to Facebook seeking help in sourcing an appropriate frock and hat to follow the strict dress code - with expert milliner Fiona Schofield heeding the call 250km away from Ms Whan's home in central west NSW

Last week Ms Whan posted a request to Facebook seeking help in sourcing an appropriate frock and hat to follow the strict dress code – with expert milliner Fiona Schofield heeding the call 250km away from Ms Whan’s home in central west NSW

‘I’m honestly so thankful I could weep, and I did. The community support emerging this week from Australia is indescribable,’ Ms Whan, who was awarded the Australian of the Year Local Hero award for her advocacy to change the culture of drinking in country Australia, said.

‘This bush gal of basic means and basic wants is a little overwhelmed. What I now know, without a shadow of a doubt, is that between these hats and the designs of Carla Zampatti I can represent us with style and grace.

‘To the countless extraordinarily kind magical unicorns who’ve gathered on the interwebs this week to transform me from boots and jeans and ancient flannos – I bloody love you all.’

Excluding dignitaries such as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, his partner Jodie Haydon and some Diggers, only ten civilians were invited to the service in London’s Westminster Abbey.

Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott was in attendance, after making Her Majesty giggle during a Zoom call in May.

Excluding dignitaries such as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, his partner Jodie Haydon and some Diggers, only ten civilians were invited to the service in London's Westminster Abbey (Shanna Whan pictured)

Excluding dignitaries such as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, his partner Jodie Haydon and some Diggers, only ten civilians were invited to the service in London’s Westminster Abbey (Shanna Whan pictured)

'I'm honestly so thankful I could weep, and I did. The community support emerging this week from Australia is indescribable,' Ms Whan, who was awarded the Australian of the Year Local Hero award for her advocacy to change the culture of drinking in country Australia, said

‘I’m honestly so thankful I could weep, and I did. The community support emerging this week from Australia is indescribable,’ Ms Whan, who was awarded the Australian of the Year Local Hero award for her advocacy to change the culture of drinking in country Australia, said

Legendary racehorse trainer Chris Waller also received a formal invite, although declined for ‘Covid-19 reasons’.

Valmai Dempsey, the 2022 senior Australian of the Year, who has volunteered for St John Ambulance for more than 50 years, was there.

Dr Miriam Rose, the 2021 Senior Australian of the Year, was named on the attendance list. She became the Northern Territory’s first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher in 1975 and pioneered a unique brand of education, fusing Western knowledge with cultural learning.

Saba Abraham, a local hero from Queensland, was also named by Mr Albanese to attend. She is an Eritrean refugee and played a vital role in combatting the spread of Covid as the Chairperson of the Brisbane Community Leaders Gathering.

Ms Abraham helped translate vital health updates into various languages. 

Kim Smith, a local hero from Tasmania, was given the green light to go. He oversaw the formation of Reclink, which organises sporting activities to support young people struggling with drug addiction.

The royals stand to welcome the Queen's coffin into Westminster Abbey on Monday

The royals stand to welcome the Queen’s coffin into Westminster Abbey on Monday

Trudy Lin, the 2022 Young Australian of the Year, and one of only 20 practising specialists in Australia’s Special Needs Dentistry, was also invited.

Danny Abdallah, a co-creator of I Forgive Day after his three kids died when they were ran over by a drunk driver, also attended.

RSL Australia president Greg Melick also attended on behalf of the organisation, of which the Queen was a patron.

‘She dedicated her life to the service of her nation and the peoples of the Commonwealth and never shirked this great responsibility,’ Mr Melick said on the Queen’s death.

‘The RSL will be forever grateful for her commitment, encouragement and support for our veterans and service personnel.’

Australian war hero Ben Roberts-Smith flew to London for the occasion, having been awarded the prestigious military honour of the Victoria Cross.

There were 2,000 mourners from various parts of the world in attendance on Monday

There were 2,000 mourners from various parts of the world in attendance on Monday

Victoria Cross recipients are invited to funeral commemorations by Buckingham Palace as protocol.

Mr Roberts-Smith is suing The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times for defamation over 2018 reports claiming he committed war crimes in Afghanistan including murder, and acts of bullying and domestic violence. 

Proceedings in the Federal Court case ended on July 27 after more than 100 days of hearings. 

Despite most of the attendees being named Australians of The Year, last year’s award winner Grace Tame did not attend.

‘The Australians who have been invited I think, embody an extraordinary contribution to our nation,’ Mr Albanese said.

The Australians joined US President Joe Biden, European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden at the service.

WHO ARE THE AUSSIES WHO ATTENDED THE QUEEN’S FUNERAL? 

Danny Abdallah:

Danny Abdallah and his wife Leila lost three of their children, and their niece, when they were ran over by a drunk driver in Sydney in February, 2020.

Their kids Sienna, 8, Angelina, 12, son Antony, 13, and niece Veronique Sakr, 11, were all killed while walking to get ice-cream in Oatlands.

Samuel Davidson, who was drunk and high on drugs, sped through a red light before mounting a footpath on February 1, 2020 and mowing down the children in a crime that shocked Australia. He was sentenced to 28-years behind bars.

The Abdallah’s have since set up the i4give Foundation to help families who’ve gone through similar trauma and to help them find forgiveness.

Dylan Alcott: 

Alcott was named this year’s Australian of the Year.

The wheelchair tennis champion has advocated for those with disabilities.

‘My purpose in life is to change perceptions so people with disabilities can live the lives they deserve to live, do whatever they want to do,’ he said.

Saba Abraham:

Saba Abraham was awarded Queensland Local Hero this year.

The Eritrean refugee helped 200 refugee and migrant women get work at her restaurant.

During the Covid outbreak, she chaired the Brisbane Community Leaders Gathering, which helped translate public health messages into various languages for people from different backgrounds.

Valmai Dempsey:

Valmai Dempsey was crowned the ACT Senior Australian of the Year 2022. 

She has dedicated 50 years of her life to volunteer for St John’s Ambulance.

She is one of the ACT’s longest-serving volunteers and she dedicates more of her time than any other volunteer.

Ms Dempsey played a role in the 2020 Black Summer bushfires, leading 40 volunteers to help those affected.

Trudy Lin:

 Trudy Lin is the SA Young Australian of the Year 2022. 

She is one of just 24 Special Needs Dentistry specialists in Australia.

She provides oral healthcare to people with disability, psychiatric conditions, and complex medical conditions such as cancer. 

Ms Lin also treats people experiencing homelessness, trauma, and domestic violence.

Professor Helen Milroy:

Prof Milroy was Australia’s first Indigenous Doctor and was awarded Australian of the Year for Western Australia in 2021.

She has been a pioneer in research, education and training in Aboriginal and child mental health, including recovery from grief and trauma for more than 25 years.

Prof Milroy was appointed as the commissioner for the Australian Government’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse from 2013 to 2017.

Kim Smith APM:

Kim Smith was crowned the Tasmanian Local Hero this year.

The former policeman created Reclink, which sets up sporting activities for teenagers struggling with drug addiction.

He also set up the Young Women’s program which helps victims of abuse and neglect.

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM:

 Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann is an Aboriginal elder, artist and activist of the Ngan’gityemerri language group.

She is the Northern Territory’s first fully qualified Indigenous teacher and advocates for art to be taught as part of every child’s education in schools.

She also set up the Miriam-Rose Foundation, which empowers Indigenous youth through art and education.

Miriam-Rose was named Senior Australian of the Year in 2021.

Chris Waller: 

Chris Waller is a champion race horse trainer.

He has trained record-breaking mare Winx, and one of Queen Elizabeth II’s horses, Chalk Stream.

Mr Waller was in regular contact with Her Majesty, with the pair speaking about his horses often, before she died. 

Shanna Whan: 

Shanna Whan was this year’s Local Hero Australian of the Year.

She overcame her own battle with alcohol addiction to launch not-for-profit organisation Sober in the Country.

Sober in the Country helps those in rural communities struggling with alcoholism.

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