Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Dutch State Visit to Australia, Day Three

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands lay sunflowers at the MH17 memorial in Canberra on day three of their State Visit to Australia
(photo koninklijkhuis Twitter)

The Dutch State Visit to Australia has been focused on how the past influences the present and reflecting on past links and future ties.  But sometimes, remembering can be hard. On day three of their visit to Australia, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima paid tribute to those lost in war and in a modern tragedy. It was a day of poignancy.

The royal couple began day three in Canberra with a visit to the Australian War Memorial. Like other royal visitors before them, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima walked along its walls, covered with the names of those who were killed in action, and stopped to place poppies to remember.

The King and Queen of the Netherlands also laid a wreath at the memorial, bowing their heads and spending several minutes in reflection.  Willem-Alexander and Maxima went on to meet Australian and Dutch veterans of World War Two and of Afghanistan.

There was more remembrance as the day continued with the royal couple placing sunflowers on the memorial to those killed on flight MH17 in 2014. Many of those on board were Dutch and Australian.

State Visits also mean political meetings and King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima had already met Australia's Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and his wife, Lucy, before visiting the memorial which is in the grounds of Parliament House in Canberra. They held further talks with him while the Governor General of Australia, Sir Peter Cosgrove, and his wife also paid a visit on the royal couple before everyone settled down for a State lunch in honour of Willem-Alexander and Maxima.

The last engagement in Canada put the focus on another part of the past as the King and Queen of the Netherlands headed to the National Archives to find out more about how Australians with Dutch ancestry can discover their family history.

And then it was off to Sydney. Yep, never ones to let the grass grow under their feet, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima travelled to Sydney to offer a thank you concert to their hosts for their hospitality.

The famous arches of the Opera House were lit up in their honour and Willem-Alexander and Maxima ended the day with a smile as they presided over the concert which marked the half way point of their State Visit.

Day four will be spent in Sydney before the State Visit to Australia comes to an end in Brisbane and the King and Queen of the Netherlands head to New Zealand.

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