When Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and Professor Pieter van Vollenhoven, the Miniser for Foreign Affairs of Australia, The Honourable Alexander Downer MP and the official party, picked up their knives and forks, at 7 p.m., 30 January, 2006, to try out the Moreton Bay lobster tail with a wild ginger, bush tomato and leek relish, as part of the entree, to be followed by the main (Snowy Mountains bushman’s banquet) part of the Royal Gala Dinner, celebrating the 400th Anniversary of Dutch-Australian relations, I wonder if and hope that, they perused the program booklet, designed by BenZane, which may have been carefully positioned by the catering staff, near their plates.
If they got as far as page 14, they would no doubt, have been most impressed by the good looks of the young boy, featured there, first sitting on his father’s moped, in Gouda, ( the town where he was born, ) wearing his best suit and tie and, later, riding a bike, in Flint Street, Matraville, Sydney, and lying on Bondi Beach, beside two redheads, on a page, representing the transition from cold, wet, overcrowded, over-regulated Holland to sunny, 1950s’ carefree Sydney.
As you can see, The Prince and I have this strong connection. Some years earlier, in 2000, we were only metres apart, when I photographed him, surrounded by some media people and others, standing outside the National Maritime Museum, in brilliant sunshine and a most relaxed atmosphere, after he had visited ‘Holland House’, a temporary marquee, between the museum and the Welcome Wall, where the Dutch Olympic athletes, their fans, lots of backpackers and the media from the Netherlands congregated.
If and when their Royal Highnesses and I shall have another such connection, I am not certain.
Thank goodness they exist to make certain events special. It helps to give us experiences to remember. I hope they enjoyed their bush herb-encrusted fillet and rack of lamb, their classic pavlova meringue, accompanied by papaya sorbet and coulis, and – above all – with a Sydney Opera House surprise_!
On the internet there were rumblings of discontent about the poor going hungry and the prince dining of crocodile meat but, gosh, grand occasions are needed to make life interesting, I reckon.
How much of an impact these celebrations and the work by ’_Australia On The Map’ (aimed at educating Australians and the world about how it was the Dutch and not the English who put Australia on the map), have had on the Australian psyche, I still am not sure.
But, for a while, it was fun.
Meanwhile, I shall continue to do my bit as an Aus – Cloggie.
Yes. That’s me, in those pictures.
My current focus is the care for my very elderly, very frail father, who often likes to repeat (Yes. Often!) that it was worth migrating to Australia because of the many wonderful experiences.
He always lists having been in a line-up to shake hands with the then Crown-princess of the Netherlands, Beatrix and her now late-husband, Prince Claus. My father was also impressed by meeting the father of Queen Beatrix, in Sydney because Prince Bernhardt was so down-to-earth.
It seems funny that, as a boy, he was a member of the AJC (Labour Youth Movement), which was basically anti-royalty. (If you liked royalty, you joined the scouts instead.)
I have had some connections with Dutch royalty too, as you can see.