By BRUCE KING
SIR James Scholtens, who rose from a humble telegraph messenger boy to become Australia’s official ”meeter and greeter” of potentates, other royalty, presidents, prime ministers and popes, has died in Canberra. He was 90.
Such was the professional admiration and affection he engendered that the Queen, who would later confer on him a personal honour, was often heard to call him ”Jim” on her royal walkabouts around Australia.
As head of the Australian government’s ceremonial and hospital branch within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Scholtens served six prime ministers – Menzies, Holt, Gorton, McMahon, Whitlam and Fraser.
He accompanied many of them on their overseas visits as well as organising official visits to Australia by visiting heads of state and other VIPs. They included US president Lyndon Johnson, vice-president Hubert Humphrey, popes Paul VI and John Paul II, Indira Gandhi and Emperor Haile Selassie, as well as almost all members of Britain’s royal family and many European and Asian royals.
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