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DIOCESE OF SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND: October 4, 2007
The Official Visit of Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna To Australia Concludes

Archbishop Hilarion is awarded the Imperial Order of St Anne, First Order, for his selfless labors towards preserving the Orthodox faith and traditional Russian culture in Australia.The first official visit of Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna to Australia has concluded.

On September 25, 2007, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna participated in a ceremony in the city of Melbourne dedicated to the memory of Russian soldiers of World War I at the Shrine of Remembrance. Her Highness was accompanied by His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand and the First Secretary of the Russian Embassy to Australia, AA Kozhin. Also participating in the ceremony were veterans of the Australian Army and representatives of Russian society. The national anthems of the Russian Federation and Australia, as well as the Russian national hymn "God Save the Tsar." Then, the Grand Duchess was honored in the former palace of the Governor-General by the present Governor of Victoria, Professor David de Kretser, who hosted a farewell luncheon for Her Highness. In attendance, in addition to the aforementioned persons, were representatives of all levels of Australian and Russian society as well as clergy.

In the second half of the day, the Grand Duchess visited the Russian charitable Society of St John of Kronstadt and a retirement home where Russian veterans reside. Here, Protopriest Michael Protopopoff, Dean of Victoria, warmly welcomed Maria Vladimirovna. In discussions with Australian officials and journalists, the Grand Duchess repeated her support for the initiatives made by Russia under President Vladimir Putin during the recent summit, expressed her pleasure with strengthening Russian-Australian ties and shared her thoughts on international cooperation in the resolution of global ecological and economic problems.