The Governor-General Quentin Bryce, Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall inspect a gift, a writing compendium, to be presented to Britain's Queen Elizabeth to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

The Governor-General Quentin Bryce, Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall inspect a gift, a writing compendium, to be presented to Britain's Queen Elizabeth to mark her Diamond Jubilee. Photo: Reuters

THE PRINCE of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will take home a gift from the Australian people to the Queen.

It is a writing compendium made from the timber of a huge North Queensland figured butt maple tree with quite a story behind it.

 

The tree died in 1901 after it was badly damaged in a cyclone 100 years earlier.

It was recovered and taken to an old country sawmill near Cairns where the incredible grain of the wood was exposed.

The alert miller saw a far bigger purpose for the timber and cut it into veneers.

From Cairns they were shipped to Sydney, where an old German veneer maker was so amazed by the timber's pattern he took the veneers home and secreted them in his wine cellar.

They were to be kept for a special purpose.

Upon his death the veneers were passed onto his daughter and her husband.

Eventually they were obtained by furniture designer David Boucher on the promise that they be used for a special purpose.

The veneers became the writing compendium that has become the official gift to the Queen in celebration of her Diamond Jubilee.

''It comes of course with the great affection of the Australian people for her majesty,'' Governor-General Quentin Bryce told the Prince and Duchess at Government House in Canberra on Saturday.

The Prince of Wales met the nation's leaders during his visit to Government House.

The Governor-General, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott had separate meetings with the prince, and Ms Gillard told him she only lived six minutes away at the Lodge, which allowed her to do some paperwork before arriving at the vice-regal residence.

Mr Abbott said it was ''a real thrill'' to meet the prince. AAP