SYDNEY, Australia -- Queen Elizabeth II of Britain and Prince Philip arrived in Sydney Tuesday for a seven-day visit to Australia highlighted by festivities marking City Council's 150th anniversary.
They were met at the airport by the Governor-General Bill Hayden, Prime Minister Paul Keating, State Governor Rear Admiral Sir Peter Sinclair and Premier Nick Greiner.
A crowd waving the British Union Jack flag cheered from the public gallery set up for the queen's 12th visit to Australia during her 40- year reign as monarch.
Other supporters lined the 5-mile route from the airport to Admiralty House, the prime minister's VIP residence overlooking Sydney Harbor, where the queen will stay.
The main purpose of the visit is for the queen to officiate at celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of Sydney City's Council.
Although European settlement began in Sydney 204 years ago, the city council was not incorporated until 1842.
The queen will officially open refurbishments to the Sydney Town Hall and also a $22.5 million grandstand named in her honor at Sydney's Randwick Racecourse, headquarters of the Australian Jockey Club, which is also celebrating its 150th anniversary.
Other engagements include the opening of State Parliament, a visit to Dubbo, in western New South Wales State, and visits to Canberra and Adelaide, before returning home Feb. 25.
The royal party arrived in a converted Qantas 747, chartered at a cost of $825,000.
The Australian Republican Movement, which has criticized the visit, has estimated that the trip could cost Australian taxpayers as much as $6 million.
The movement says Australia is mature and independent enough to have its own head of state officiate at formal occasions.
Its campaign to have Australia declared a republic by the year 2000 coincides with a concerted move to have the Union Jack dropped from Australia's flag. Opponents claim it has little relevance to the many migrants who came from countries other than Britain.
Political analysts said the republican debate was certain to occupy the public arena as never before during the visit.