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When Sir George Reid died in London on 12 September 1916, the Australian government was faced for the first time with the need to arrange an appropriate funeral ceremony for a former prime minister.
The funeral procession set out from Australia House in the Strand, with the coffin draped with the huge Australian flag usually flown from the building. The Australian Government ordered wreaths from a Knightsbridge florist, and supplied a diagram outline of Australia so a wreath of wattle could be fashioned in the correct shape of the continent.
At St Columba’s Church of Scotland in Pont Street Kensington, the pallbearers included Prime Minister WM Hughes and former prime ministers Andrew Fisher and Joseph Cook.
Australia has had 26 prime ministers, but only 25 prime ministerial wives. John McEwen was a widower when he became Prime Minister on 19 December 1967. Anne McEwen, who died on 10 February that year, had received the honour of Dame of the British Empire in 1966 for her contribution to Australian public life.