King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima have remembered the downing of flight MH17 two years ago while on their state visit in Australia. The crash of MH17 cost the lives of almost 200 Dutch but also of 38 people from Australia. “The tragedy of MH17 has brought us closer together than ever”, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said as he welcomed the King and Queen to Parliament. He assured the King and Queen of Australia’s determination of bringing those responsible for the crash to justice.
King Willem-Alexander echoed the Prime Minister’s words during a lunch at Government House. “We deeply value the excellent cooperation in determining the exact cause, so we can hold the perpetrators responsible and justice can be done.”
Behind Government House, a solemn monument stands with the names of the 38 people who, “considered Australia their home.” Not all of those 38 people held the Australian nationality. The earth underneath the monument is from the ground in Eastern Ukraine where the flight crashed, brought to Australia by an officer of the Australian federal police. The monument was flanked by two Dutch schoolchildren as the King and Queen placed sunflowers at the monument, symbolic for the sunflower field where some of the wreckage came down.
The Prime Minister, his wife Lynne, Minister of Foreign Affairs Koenders and his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop also placed flowers in the short ceremony. The King and Queen were also shown a memorial for the bombing in Bali in the same garden. The King expressed his wishes that there would be no need for further additions to the garden.
Inside the building, the King met with several Australians who were involved in the crash in different ways, such as the repatriation of the bodies.
“Australia and the Netherlands will forever be connected in their determination to keep the memory of those 298 innocent people who lost their lives alive”, Tony Smith, a member of the Australian House of Representatives said.
The Netherlands were thanked for the dignified way it handled the bodies of the Australian victims during the repatriation.