The influx of high flying political visitors to the USyd campus continued today with His majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands.
The royals are in Sydney as part of a State visit to Australia to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Dutch sailor Dirk Hartog’s arrival off the coast of what is now Western Australia. Apparently this visit forms part of a year long celebration of military and academic partnerships between the two countries. As pub quizzes and relatives doing stage 4 history are wont to remind us, Willem Janszoon of the Dutch East India Trading Company was the first recorded European to set foot on Australian soil.
The Royal Couple arrived in Perth on Monday, swinging through Canberra on Wednesday and arriving in Sydney last night, where they were apparently spotted at the Opera House and rubbing shoulders with First Daddy Malcolm Turnbull and Emoji Ambassador Julie Bishop.
Their visit to the University was in part to launch the New Holland Australia Scholarships, which enables students from Australia to study at partner institutions in the Netherlands. Unfortunately for those discovering the program for the first time, this reporter included, applications for 2017 closed in October.
This follows a surprise drop in from former Italian Prime Minister and scandal-doer, Silvio Berlusconi, who attended a United States Studies Centre event last night at which current Australian ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, was speaking.
According to a comment made by Michael Spence in Academic Board, Queen Máxima’s hoped to dress to match our dearly departed Tree, a gauche sartorial act given the immediacy of its demise. It is reported that she declined the opportunity to dress to match the several tonnes of bark mulch that currently occupies the Tree’s former home.
When asked if the Royal Couple enjoyed the ceremony, a staff member working the event suggested I “ask someone who was paying attention”.
The Royal Couple’s visit to Sydney will conclude this evening with a ferry to Cockatoo Island for a meeting on innovation in agriculture, before continuing to Brisbane tomorrow.
This is the first time European monarchs have visited the University of Sydney, much to the disappointment of Michael Spence, who was seated next to Her Highness for the proceedings today.
This is yet another reminder that University management always schedule the most exciting visits during non-teaching weeks of the year. For those who dream of being on the throbbing pulse of bizarre visits from international entities, just look for the heavy police presence. There’s either someone of political note around, or repselect is happening again.