Royal visit’s no mere whim
Saturday, 19th November, 2011
By Erica Visser
The countdown to Crown Mary Princess of Denmark’s visit to Broken Hill is on and while her stay will be brief, it should be one to remember.
The princess will arrive on Friday and spend two hours at the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) base before heading back to Melbourne.
Organiser of the trip, the chairman of charity group RFDS of Australia, Friends in the United Kingdom, Marina Ritossa, said that Princess Mary had for years been very interested in the Flying Doctor and in visiting the outback.
“I met the princess a number of years ago and developed a bit of a relationship,” Ms Ritossa said.
“She was particularly interested in the RFDS’s work and I think her interest really grew out of my conversations here.
“I spoke to her about simple things such as the medical tests the RFDS conducts and just general conversations about what we do. She was particularly interested in the work with women’s and children’s health.”
But it was only recently that Ms Ritossa asked Princess Mary to visit an RFDS base for charity.
Ms Ritossa said the Broken Hill base was the obvious choice because it has Prince Charles as its patron.
“We chose it for two reasons; one, it’s an all encompassing base, it has everything, and secondly, it’s a very iconic part of Australia,” Ms Ritossa said.
She said that most of the RFDS Friends in UK’s dealings were with the BH base and she wanted to use the trip to acknowledge the city.
“I would like the people at the base and of the outback to feel that they’re not forgotten, not just by people in Australia, but overseas, but even royalty in Copenhagen which is as removed as you can get.”
Ms Ritossa said that the charity had been involved in many events over the year that had the same aim.
“We want to make people who are not aware, aware of what the RFDS does in Australia so corporates who have a presence in Australia come through our association.”
The charity, which was set up in 2003 by Australians to commemorate 75 years of the RFDS, has staged events featuring many high profile Australians including Shane Warne, Rolf Harris and Germaine Greer.
Ms Ritossa said that while the upcoming visit would be brief, Princess Mary wanted to meet people in the city.
“She really enjoys people,” she said. “She will be there for not quite a whole day. She is flying from Melbourne and doing a tour of the base and hosting a luncheon.”
Ms Ritossa said that it was a shame that Princess Mary could not see more of what the city had to offer but time restrictions made it too difficult.
“She is visiting the country for about a week on Danish business and has broken away from that to do this personally.”
Ms Ritossa said that while she had not visited the city herself she’d had so many dealing with it and would love to come here one day.
“Sadly, I haven’t but hopefully next year,” she said.
“I think (the UK) still sees Australians as their distant cousins, although sometimes sport gets in the way!”