Spending Time with William, Kate and George

by The Editor

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Here we are… The Royals (note the capitals) are making their way through a tour of The Colonies. How wonderful it must be for the old guard to travel halfway around the world to marvel at the cultural melting pot so far away fro the dream imagined when first a flag was planted in Botany Bay? One must imagine we live in extraordinary times. Certainly Will’s Grandfather, old ‘Phil the Greek’, wouldn’t quite know what to make of it all.

So, what’s it like to spend time with the Head of State (and the one thereafter)?

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The Canberran had while to sit down with a local who spends time at almost every function held at Parliament House to honour visiting heads of state. Here are the highs and lows of a ceremonial dinner in the Great Hall.

Politics
“Welcome drinks are served out the front of the Great Hall. Those with experience of such events quickly grab a glass and then peruse the seating arrangements with an early strategy to ensure the carefully arranged placecards are rearranged to reflect their preferences and ensure a good view (or not!). Once in here, you can’t leave – you know some other bugger will simply pull the same stunt on you.”

Service
“To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever noticed the same staff twice at the Great Hall when attending a formal function. I’m not sure if that’s a comment on their employers or the calibre of their clientele (however I’m more convinced it’s the former).”

Wine
“Inevitably, the wines are local (we pray for Clonakilla or something equally impressive). There’s nothing like shocking the pants off a European dignitary through the provision of a few bottles of red plucked from Australia’s harsh, red soil. Add to that the fact our water is harder than John Faulkner on a bad day and you’ve got the perfect recipe to suck in the cheeks and torture the taste-buds of any random continental.

“Mind you, if they’re from anywhere else in the world, they can’t get enough of the stuff.”

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Food
“Here we go again. I kid you not, every time one of these dinners is held, it seems the caterers at Parliament House only know a handful of dishes. For entrees, we are offered either salmon or the vegetarian tart. In fact, I’m not sure there is any difference between the two – other than the fact the latter has no fish in it. Once the alternate drop lands though, there is usually a heavy serious of negotiations to secure the plate with at least some orange on it.

“For mains, it’s either baked chicken or some steak. Highly unimaginative (no kangaroo?) but at least it’s cooked well.”

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Speeches
“Invariably this is the most brutal part of the meal, where you have to at least try to restrain yourself as the monotonous, allegedly crowd-pleasing procession of platitudes makes their way most inoffensively from the guest down to the floor of barely sober recipients. Who cares anyway? These words aren’t for us – they’re for the newspapers here and their media at home (whoever happens to be paying attention). Meanwhile, we applaud and nod in ways that ensure we look polite and sober enough for at least another glass or two of the Clonakilla.”

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There you go. Tomorrow’s lunch at Parliament House in honour of Our Future King is sure to be the hottest ticket in town. Perhaps though, for those whom the gold-foil invitations regularly land in their letterbox, it’s just another plate of salmon.

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