Sydney will light just two landmarks for the coronation. And it’s not the two you think
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The NSW government has chosen to keep the sails of the Sydney Opera House unlit for the coronation of King Charles III on Saturday as a cost-saving measure.
Across the country more than 100 prominent public buildings and monuments will be illuminated in royal purple to mark the occasion.
But Sydney landmarks including the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Town Hall and Parliament will not be among them.
The Sydney Opera House lit up to commemorate the death of Queen Elizabeth II last year.Credit: Mark Baker
Only two are in NSW: Admiralty House in Kirribilli and Cape Bowling Green Lighthouse at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Pyrmont. NSW Government House is also hosting coronation celebrations over the weekend.
A spokesperson for the NSW government said it “believes it has struck the right balance in terms of meeting community expectations on commemorating the occasion while being mindful of the public expense”.
Lighting the sails of the Opera House has been used to commemorate everything from the death of Queen Elizabeth II to the Everest horse race. A government source said it cost about $80,000-$100,000 each time.
Premier Chris Minns met NSW Governor Margaret Beazley on Tuesday afternoon, but neither confirmed whether the coronation was discussed.
The understated approach in NSW is in marked contrast to other states and territories, regardless of political affiliation. Victoria will illuminate 18 prominent sites, including Parliament House, Town Hall, Flinders Street Station and the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Queensland will light up 10 sites including the Story Bridge, while South Australia has 20 sites and Western Australia 35.
In the national capital, the illuminated sites include Australian Parliament House, Government House, Treasury, the National Gallery, National Library, National Portrait Gallery and the High Court.
The Herald has heard plans were well advanced to light the sails of the Opera House with the king’s cypher, the official term for the monogram of his name and rex for king. However, this was not presented to the former government before it went into caretaker mode and the Minns government received a fresh brief presenting a range of options.
Shadow treasurer and former minister Damien Tudehope said the NSW Labor government was “penny pinching” because of its choice to remove the wage cap for public servants.
“It reflects poorly on them that they’re refusing to acknowledge a prominent event that to an extent has engaged the minds of all Australians, whether republican or monarchist,” Tudehope said.
“It’s ahistoric occasion and relegating it to the back blocks of Kirribilli and Pyrmont does not reflect the interest of the general population of Sydney.”
David Flint, national convener for Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, said lighting up two less prominent sites was “almost a calculated insult”.
“It would have been better for them not to bother if they’re going to take that attitude,” he said.
“I find it hard to accept when the Opera House is regularly lit for various other events and I would have thought the coronation of a new monarch would have been an appropriate occasion.”
Australian Republic Movement national director Sandy Biar said: “There’s absolutely no reason why more money should be spent glorifying a king on the other side of the world.
“If it was a choice between hiring more nurses or making a building purple for a night, I know what most Australians would choose.”
The Sydney Opera House did not respond to a request for comment.
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