While we retain the Monarch as head of state in Australia it isn’t to often that the Australian Royal Family makes the news here, but local media has been sent into meltdown with the royal tour currently underway in Australia. You can’t turn on a television, read a paper or news website without seeing the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Everywhere you go that has had or is expecting the Royal Couple to visit is usually what dominates conversation. A large portion of Australians are more then delighted to have our future King and Queen consort here to visit us, the tour is somewhat similar to that of the Prince and Princess of Wales, Charles and Diana in the 80s.
Fresh back from their visit to the Red Centre and Adelaide as part of their Royal Tour, the Duke and Duchess have spent the first of two official days in Canberra undertaking engagements. The royal couple attended the National Arboretum, a beautiful feature and relatively new attraction in our Nations Capital. In 2003 Canberra was thrown into its weeks in its history, bushfire that had started in NSW and quickly spread to the bushy outer area of the City, the flames grew in intensity and soon fire had reached the city. Whole suburbs were lost, houses abandoned and even the National Zoo was evacuated. The fires left four people dead and hundreds homeless.
The National Arboretum was part of the recovery effort to reinvigorate the city following the terrible events. Planting began in 2005 which included official plantings by heads of state, government leaders and ambassadors. William and Catherine joined the list of Royalty who have visited the spot to leave their mark, Australian born Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and her husband Crown Prince Frederik are among the Royal horticulturists.
William and Catherine planted an English Oak tree to honour England, canberra twins Oliver and Sebastian Lye were on hand to help the Duke And Duchess water in their tree, their mum told local presenter Rod Cuddihy on MIX106.3’s breakfast show “I’m so proud and also a little nervous”. Greeting some of the lucky Canberran’s who won the ballot to be present the Duchess was presented with multiple toys and gifts for absent Prince George, A young girl pushed a peter rabbit toy to the duchess, the Duchess asked ‘‘Is that for George? His cot’s going to be full of little teddy bears’’.
From the Arboretum they made the short drive to Parliament House. The royal couple were received at Parliament House by scores of onlookers and the official party including the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition in the Marble Foyer. Prince William gave a speech praising the Australian people, our work ethic and rich culture going on to say “Australia may be known as the lucky country, but often the harder you work, the luckier you get,” and that Australians “make their own luck”. He went on to speak fondly of memories made with his young family on their tour “We go away with wonderful memories, and George goes away with his cuddly wombat, which he has taken to chewing so lovingly.
In his speech Prince William paid tribute to Australia’s first peoples. “Catherine and I acknowledge the timeless values of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. They have been the custodians of this ancient and majestic continent for thousands of years. The Traditional Owners’ stories, and the magnificent and moving rock art at Uluru, which we saw for ourselves, are a priceless inheritance. They tell us not just about the past but provide a precious vision for the future”.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott took time to put the Royal Tour into perspective with a relatively Australian metaphor, “A couple of years back, Kelly Slater visited Manly, in my electorate. There were over a thousand screaming fans, as you’d expect when the world’s greatest surfer visited the world’s greatest beach. But as I have just seen with my own eyes, Sir, Ma’am, in Manly, you are bigger than Kelly Slater, perhaps by a factor of ten’. Mr Shorten the leader of the opposition told a story of how his family in the United Kingdom who had been present when the Dukes Great-grandfather George VI then Duke of York had launched a ship in Newcastle Upon Thyme in 1931, Mr Shorten went on to say “Its only taken our families 83 years to catch up again, but its a distinct pleasure”.
William and Catherine after their lunch at Parliament House then made their way to the National Portrait Gallery to view local works and meet the artists and or subjects of the portraits. The Duchess who is an avid art enthusiast seemed to be in her element taking in the glorious works of art.
The Royal Couple later in the night were guests of honour at a reception at Government House.
photo credit: Office of the Governor-General of New Zealand