Dutch royals lay tributes for MH17 victims, war dead in Australia

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima place sunflowers at the MH17 Memorial at Parliament House in Canberra on Nov 2, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

CANBERRA (REUTERS) - King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands laid sunflowers at a memorial in the Australian capital on Wednesday (Nov 2) for victims of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 shot down over Ukraine two years ago.

The Dutch royal couple also added to the sea of poppies at the War Memorial in Canberra's Wall of Remembrance and placed a wreath in the Hall of Memory, commemorating servicemen and women who have died in battle.

"I think, as a historian, I attach great value to commemorating historical moments, but they are only worthwhile if we also have a common future," King Willem-Alexander said during a meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. "Otherwise, it is not worth celebrating the past."

Remembrance Day, commemorating the end of World War One, is on Nov 11.

MH17, travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down in July 2014 killing all 298 passengers and crew. Most of the victims were Dutch and 28 were Australians.

International prosecutors said in September that the airliner was shot down by a missile fired from a launcher brought into Ukraine from Russia and located in a a village held by pro-Russian rebels, contradicting Moscow's suggestion that Ukraine's military brought down the plane.

During their five-day official visit to Australia, the royal couple are due to host a concert at the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday, featuring two renowned Dutch classical pianists Arthur and Lucas Jussen.

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