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Abbott hams it up for royals

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“Ma’am” as in ham, not “ma’am” like palm.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott did not take heed of the line made famous by the film The King’s Speech when referring to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, in Canberra on Thursday.

“Your grace and warmth, Ma’am, have been abundantly on display,” Mr Abbott said in a nod to the duchess’s efforts during her Australian visit.

While the slip might have left sticklers aghast, but it didn’t seem to faze Kate.

In the 2010 film starring Australian Geoffrey Rush as King George VI’s speech therapist, then Queen Elizabeth instructs Rush’s character: “It’s ‘Your Majesty’ the first time. After that, it’s ‘ma’am’, as in ‘ham’. Not ‘ma’am’, as in ‘palm'”.

Priceless inheritance

In the second last day of their tour of Australia, the Duke of Cambridge marvelled at Australia’s priceless inheritance – the art and stories of one of the oldest living culture in the world.

Prince William spoke of his admiration for the country and the timeless values of its custodians – the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“The traditional owners’ stories and the magnificent and moving rock art at Uluru, which we saw for ourselves, are a priceless inheritance,” William told MPs, ambassadors and other guests at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday.

William and Kate spent Tuesday afternoon at Uluru in the Northern Territory – the site of William’s first encounter with Australia more than 30 years ago.

At the end of the day they were taken on a special guided walk to the base of the desert monolith before walking the last part to a waterhole alone where they spent some time in quiet reflection.

William also acknowledged on Thursday the legacy and sacrifice of Australia’s fallen diggers and Australia’s efforts promoting peace in the powerhouse Asia Pacific region.

It was with happy memories that he and his family would leave on Friday, he said.

“George goes away with his cuddly wombat which he has taken to chewing so lovingly,” he said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said this 50th royal visit to Australia would be remembered as one of the very best.

He compared the royal couple’s visit to his neighbourhood of Manly to one by champion surfer Kelly Slater.

The world’s greatest surfer visiting the world’s greatest beach had attracted thousands of screaming fans, Mr Abbott told them.

“But as I have seen with my own eyes sir, ma’am, in Manly you are bigger than Kelly Slater – perhaps by a factor of 10.”

Earlier, the pair planted an English Oak tree at the National Arboretum, the tree chosen as a symbol of England, representing strength and endurance.

For one Canberra family their encounter with royalty there was the chance to make a lasting memory for tough months ahead.

Moira Lye, beamed as her young twin boys Oliver and Sebastian, 6, watered the tree after William and Kate shovelled in some soil.

The mother-of-five has terminal breast cancer and is about to start a final round of chemotherapy.

“Well done, guys,” William told the twins as the crowd clapped.

Mrs Lye didn’t get a chance to meet the couple but would have offered them this advice: “To cherish every moment with their little boy.”

Wearing a long sleeve bright emerald green Catherine Walker dress, that she had worn earlier on the tour, and nude heels, Kate ventured inside a banksia cubby house in the playground.

She also became an honorary member of the Lake Burley Griffin cubs – receiving a platypus badge from Aishani Perumal, 8.

William also met a little boy named Harry.

“Another Harry! Is he as much trouble as the other Harry?” he joked, referring to his younger brother.

The couple also visited the National Portrait Gallery and finish the day with a reception at Government House.