OCTOBER 25TH AND 26TH, 2006
It was weeks of anticipation for the Dutch Community in Tasmania, as they received preliminary invitations and two general invitations in the Saturday Mercury, for the Royal visit. His Royal Highness, the Prince of Orange, and Her Royal Highness, Princess Maxima of the Netherlands, were coming!
Our Patron and Hon. Consul, Mr George Huizing, was very busy with the Ambassador of the Netherlands, Mr Niek van Zutphen, and the Royal Household to formulate this Royal visit.
The Royal couple flew into Hobart Airport at 1.00 pm on Wednesday 25th October in their private Fokker 70 jet, and were greeted by the Tasmanian Governor, Mr William Cox and Mrs Cox, Premier Paul Lennon and Mrs Lennon, and George Huizing, the Hon. Dutch Consul, and then travelled to Government House.
(Keen viewers of BVN will have noticed that the pilot gets off the plane first, but of course the pilot is the Prince!)
After a very short stay, the Royal couple were ushered to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery for a visit. A stuffed Tasmanian tiger was brought out of storage for their inspection, and the portrait of Abel Tasman was brought downstairs for their viewing.
After this, they came to the long awaited Reception at the IXL Art Hotel. The Dutch community welcomed them with open arms. All the invitees were formally introduced to the young Royals, and then they moved to the Atrium, where the guests were greeted with a drink and tasty hor’douvres.
The lighting and the flower arrangements in this area were absolutely first class, an inspired choice. There were separate tables set aside for some of the invitees (based on occupation) so that the Royal couple could have focused conversations.
The Crown Prince was certainly well informed about the diversities of our society, and was seeking comparison with these in Holland. He seemed to enjoy chatting with the crowd, and was very relaxed, yet regal. The Princess charmed us all with her beaming smile and presence. The reception started at 4.30 pm and continued on quite late, finishing with a stop at a poffertjes kraam outside the main entrance.
On Wednesday evening the Governor hosted a dinner at Government House in honour of the Royals. (The guest list was printed in the Mercury, Dr Freddie and Ms Liz Kingston represented the Dutch Australian Society, the Hon. Consul, Mr George Huizing, and Mrs Nova Huizing represented the Dutch community).
The next day the Crown Prince planted two trees in the grounds of Government House to commemorate the visit, just as his mother HRH Queen Beatrix had done 18 years ago. He asked how high they would grow, and when the gardener promised to send a photo, the Prince promised to come back (in 20 years) and have a look himself.
A little later the Crown Prince took off by helicopter to Tahune Air Walk in the South- West Heritage Area, and then went to Peppermint Bay for lunch. A few of our members saw that this was planned, so chose to do the same and had the impertinence to ask the Prince ‘heeft het nog gesmaakt?’ as he passed their table. He even agreed to some photos! After lunch he visited the Port Arthur Historic Site.
In the meantime, the Crown princess had a resting day at Government House, followed by some retail therapy in Salamanca Place, as most of you have read in the newspaper.
(Staff in a certain newsagency had no idea who their special customer was until asked for their reaction by the trailing press.)
All this fairy tale Royal visit had to come to an end for us Tasmanians, and the Royal couple left at 3.15 pm.
The Ambassador, Premier of Tasmania David Bartlett, Hon.Consul George Huizing, tourism guru Geoffrey Wood, DAS President Dr Freddie von Schmidt, ANCOC member Ben van Dijken and University of Tasmania Vice-Chancellor, Daryl Le Grew.
DAS-member function to get to know Parliament House, hosted by Rene Hidding, MHR.