Primrose Potter

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Primrose Potter, Lady Potter AC (born 23 April 1931) is an Australian philanthropist and arts administrator. She is particularly associated with The Australian Ballet. She is the widow of Sir Ian Potter.


Primrose Catherine Anderson-Stuart was born in Sydney in 1931, the daughter of a radiologist, Bouverie Anderson-Stuart. Her grandfather was Sir Thomas Anderson Stuart, who established the Medical School at the University of Sydney.[1][2] She was educated at Ascham School.[1]

Her first marriage, in 1952, was to a doctor, Roger Dunlop, with whom she had a daughter, Primrose Dunlop, known as "Pitty Pat". After their divorce in 1969,[1] she married businessman and stockbroker Sir Ian Potter in 1975, becoming Lady Potter.[3] They had met at a dinner hosted by William and Sonia McMahon. Sir Ian Potter had children from three earlier marriages.[1]

Primrose Potter has been: Director and Victorian Chairman of the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust 1989-91; Director of the Bell Shakespeare Company 1990-91; Trustee of American Friends of the National Gallery of Australia since 1989; National President of the Australian Ballet Special Events Committee 1993; member of the Howard Florey Institute; member of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research; Director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art from 1999; and Life Governor of the Ian Potter Foundation.[3] She was founding Honorary Patron of the Melba Foundation, Founding Patron of the Victorian Opera Company, and Patron of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art.[1]

She has also raised funds for The Smith Family, the St Vincent de Paul Society, and the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC).[4]


In the Queen's Birthday Honours 1988, Lady Potter was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for service to the arts and the community.[5] In 2003 she was promoted to Companion of the Order (AC) for leadership and for encouragement of support for critical community growth through fundraising and philanthropy in the arts, sciences, education and social welfare.[6]

In February 2010 The Australian Ballet named its headquarters in Southbank, Melbourne, the Primrose Potter Australian Ballet Centre, to honour her 35 years of service to the organisation. [7][8]

She has been awarded honorary doctorates from Australian Catholic University,[1] and Monash University.[9] She is a Member of the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, and in 2003 she was appointed a Commendatore of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, for her work promoting Italian culture in Australia.[1]

Family affairs[edit]

In 1990 her daughter Primrose "Pitty Pat" Dunlop became the subject of international interest when her planned Venice wedding to Lorenzo Montesini, a Qantas flight attendant, was called off with only four days to go. Montesini had decided he preferred the company of the best man, Robert Straub. He denied there was any sexual component to his long-standing friendship with Straub, but in his memoir My Life and Other Misdemeanours, published in 1999, he revealed he and Straub had been lovers since 1967 and that the marriage to Pitty Pat Dunlop was entirely Straub's idea. Montesini also refers to himself as Prince Giustiniani, Count of the Phanaar, Knight of St Sophia and Baron Alexandroff. He claims he inherited these titles from his grandmother, but she was illegitimate and no such titles were ever conferred by either the Venetian or Ottoman empires, according to John Julius Norwich and Philip Mansel.[10] Montesini's relations also mocked the suggestion that he held a title.[11][12]

Pitty Pat Dunlop later married George Kirk, a Melbourne real estate developer, who claimed a title, as Count Krasicki v Siecin.[13]