Bob Hawke’s wife Blanche d’Apluget has given a stirring tribute to her late husband in an emotional state memorial service at the Sydney Opera House, held almost a month after the beloved politician died peacefully at his home, aged 89.
Donning a glamorous baby pink velvet cape atop a black floral dress, the 75-year-old author looked stunning as she closed out the public funeral honouring the man she loved, poignantly declaring, “Long live love”.
“Friends, thank you for coming today to honour the life of a wonderful man,” Blanche began.
“Four weeks ago, there was a national outpouring of grief when Australia learned Bob Hawke had died. That grief has continued until today,” she said.
“Today, this memorial service marks the transition from the grief of loss to the celebration of a life triumphantly well lived.
“With today’s transformative service, we smile again. We glow with pride for the presence among us, for almost 90 years, of a great human being.”
The 75-year-old – who had a decades-long love affair with the beloved Labor Prime Minister while they were both married to other people, before they married in 1995 – thanked the many high profile Australians and politicians who attended the service and also gave speeches.
Former PMs John Howard and Paul Keating were in attendance, while current Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese gave speeches, and Governor of Western Australia Kim Beazley gave a wonderful eulogy.
In one particularly stirring moment, Blanche paid tribute to her late husband’s incredible work with the Chinese community following the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, where Hawke granted Chinese students asylum and sparked a global refugee moment.
“Bob had friends around the world, but in no country besides Australia did he have more friends than in China,” Blanche told the packed crowd in the Opera House’s Concert Hall.
“There are two here today whom I thank for their love of Bob and their love of Australia and for travelling from Shanghai for the Australian they called father,” she said.
Blanche then spoke directly to her late husband’s friends in their native language, later telling the audience, “Thank you for your indulgence of my Mandarin”.
Closing her remarks, Blanche simply said, “Long live friendship among nations and beyond all, long live love.”
WATCH BELOW: Bob Hawke’s wife Blanche d’Alpuget talks about the couple’s “mature love”. Story continues after video.
Following her husband’s death last month, Blanche was heart-breakingly open about the incredible love she shared with Hawke.
The couple were very honest with each other about death and towards the end of the Labor stalwart’s life, Blanche become his primary carer.
When asked about the couple’s last year together on ABC’s 7.30 program, Blanche said it was a time she would treasure forever, and when their love deepened even further.
“We were so close and intimate during that time, while I was his main carer,” Blanche said of their final 12 months. “And we often said to each other, we’ve been blessed to have this period together.”
But it was this particular quote about their late-in-life relationship that broke hearts all around the nation: “We didn’t have the joy of young love. He had that with Hazel [Hawke, Bob’s first wife, with whom he has four children]. We had the joy of mature love and then the love of old age.”
She added: “People don’t realise how wonderful it can be to look after somebody you love when they’re old and dying.
“There’s a great deal of intimacy. There are no secrets, there are no pretences. You’re getting the true human being on both sides.”
RIP Bob Hawke.