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JUST what do you give a recently wed royal couple who have good
looks, charm, the odd castle and a collection of wedding gifts
ranging from the lavish to the bizarre?
When it set about finding a goodwill gift for Crown Prince
Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, the Victorian Government's choice
was simple: say it with a tram.
Next month, Transport Minister Peter Batchelor will present one
of the city's iconic W-class trams to Australia's favourite
Scandinavian royals. Danish Consul-General Jorgen Mollegaard
Kristensen will accept on behalf of Prince Frederik and Princess
The Government had hoped to present the gift during the royal
visit in March but could not get it restored in time. The fully
functioning green and yellow tram — restored at a cost of
$25,000 — will now be shipped to Denmark by the end of the
The royal couple will garage their new set of wheels at the
Danish Tramways Museum — described by Mr Bachelor as "one of
the finest museums of its type in the world". The museum is based
in one of Denmark's grandest castles, 40 kilometres from
"As a former Melbourne resident, the princess is very familiar
with our trams and we hope the gift brings back fond memories for
her," said Mr Batchelor — predicting that the presence of a
Melbourne transport icon in the Danish capital would "further
cement the growing relationship between our two cities".
The princess grew up in Tasmania but worked briefly in Melbourne
as an advertising executive in the 1990s.
All W-class trams were removed from service in 2000 amid
concerns about their brakes following several accidents. About 50
were modified and later returned to service but most of the
remaining 180 trams, including the new royal gift, have languished
in storage at the Newport Tram Depot.
Mr Kristensen said the royal couple were "quite impressed" by
the present. "It's a very big gift," he said. "This is a piece of
history from Victoria and we have a nice collection of trams from
around the world. We needed one from Australia and now we have got
The largesse does not stop at the Australian border. Danish
shipping line Maersk has agreed to transport the tram to Denmark
free of charge, waiving the estimated bill of $40,000.
While trams are no longer in active service in Copenhagen, some
stretches of track remain and the Consul-General said the W-class
would return to the rails to give rides on special occasions, such
as festivals and holidays.
Perhaps it will simply be used for the ultimate Sunday
"It belongs to the royal couple and they can use it whenever
they wish," Mr Kristensen said. "They are looking forward to trying
it in the near future."
Mary and Frederik are no strangers to unorthodox gifts. At their
May 2004 wedding the royal couple received thousands of presents
from wellwishers around the world and besotted Danish subjects.
Among them were five automobiles, a lawnmower emblazoned with the
royal insignia and (a problem familiar to many newlyweds) multiple
dinner settings. Other gifts included a gold-covered shrine, valued
at nearly $400,000 and a kinky board game called "Erotic 4
Amid such a rich variety of offerings, perhaps receiving a tram
from the other side of the world might not seem so strange after
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