Thursday, 21 January 2010

Prince William's Australia Day speech at Government House in Melbourne

On 21st January 2010 Prince William spoke at Government House in Melbourne to address the people at the state of Victoria's Australia Day celebrations .

I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land, the Kulin Nation, and pay my respects to their elders, both past and present. Being in Australia is the realisation of a dream.

As far back as I can remember, I have heard from my family about the wonders of Australia and the hospitality and friendship of the Australian people.

My father had such a great time here at school - and is still misty-eyed about an immortal moment on Bondi, when an Australian beauty planted a smacker on his cheek. It's good to see this tradition is continuing!

I also remember my mother coming back from her time here in 1996, telling me what a profound impression this country had made on her and how much she loved Australia. Three days here and now I know why. And of course, there's that other guy with the ginger hair, who just never ever stops banging on about you and how I haven't lived because I haven't been to Australia - blah, blah, blah.

Because of this, and because of the respect the world has for your unique way of life, your vibrancy, your straightforward ways, your classic sense of humour, I have been longing to return.

The last time I was here I was nine months old and seeing the world from a very low level; certainly not one from which to appreciate this awesome place.

What has struck me during this visit to the southern hemisphere is what "shared heritage" actually means.

It really is about core values and our way of life. It really is about humour and decency.

And it is also about courage and an ability to face down adversity. Today, on the outskirts of Melbourne, I was privileged to see the spirit of Australia in its purest, most magnificent form.

My family, along with millions around the world, followed the events of last February with a sense of horror which slowly, as the days passed, turned to one of deep, deep admiration for the steadfastness of the Australian people.

The stories of suffering I have heard today inevitably made me think about the ongoing tragedy of Haiti. Our thoughts and prayers remain with everyone there.

What an exciting place Australia is, though! This truly is a country for the 21st century. I only wish I had a little longer to see a bit more of Melbourne, this legendary city of sport and culture.

But if I may, I'll be back!

So, coming to Australia is the realisation of this long-held dream.

To be standing here, in beautiful Melbourne, on a glorious summer's afternoon, is one thing. But to be asked to address you at the state of Victoria's Australia Day celebrations is a great honour for me.

Thank you for asking me to be here and making me feel so very welcome.

Happy Australia Day.

More reports on the Prince of Wales' website.

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