Anna Johanna Maria van Iersel born on October 5, 1948, is an accomplished Dutch-born Australian artist and the former spouse of Paul Keating, the ex-Prime Minister of Australia. She held the name Annita Keating from 1975 to 1998.
Originally hailing from Oisterwijk, North Brabant, Netherlands, Annita pursued language studies in Paris and London before embarking on a career as a flight attendant with KLM and Alitalia. It was during her time with Alitalia that she crossed paths with Paul Keating, an aspiring politician at the time, leading to their marriage on January 17, 1975. Subsequently, her parents joined her in Australia.
Throughout Paul Keating’s prime ministership from 1991 to 1996, their four children (Katherine, Patrick, Caroline, Alexandra) spent a portion of their teenage years at The Lodge, the official residence of the Australian Prime Minister in Canberra. Annita actively supported her husband during this period, accompanying him on numerous overseas visits. Her linguistic prowess played a pivotal role in Australia’s successful bid for the 2000 Olympic Games.
In the realm of politics, Annita fulfilled the role of a ‘political wife,’ engaging in Labor’s election campaigns and participating in appearances and interviews surrounding federal budgets. Described by colleagues as the ‘perfect partner’ for a prime minister, she was acknowledged for being supportive, involved, determined, yet down-to-earth.
The year 1998 marked the separation of Annita and Paul Keating, leading to their formal divorce in 2008. However, Annita had long resumed her maiden name of van Iersel. In a revealing interview with The Bulletin, she disclosed that it was Keating who initiated the separation at a dinner party with friends.
Following their separation, Annita embarked on a new chapter, enrolling in a Master of Fine Arts program, majoring in photography, at the Australian National School of Arts in Darlinghurst, Sydney. She successfully graduated in 2001 and later exhibited a series of paintings – oils on Belgian linen – created in her studio on the Hawkesbury River in March 2008.
Alexandra Keating – serial entrepreneur
Born in 1985, twenty years later, daughter Alexandra initiated her entrepreneurial journey by founding GoFundraise while studying at the University of Sydney. Recognising the need for a low-cost fundraising platform for nonprofits during a charity endeavor, she successfully sold the company in 2008. Subsequently, in 2013, Keating co-founded DWNLD, a content management system, which was later acquired by Dropbox in 2017.
Throughout her career, she explored roles such as VP of marketing and partnerships at Thrillist and delved into the realms of investing at LionTree Advisors and RSE Ventures. However, her passion for entrepreneurship remained steadfast.
In her latest venture (2022), Keating launched Uni, a refillable body care brand that aims to address the beauty industry’s impact on oceans and marine life. Uni distinguishes itself by housing its products in reusable dispensers.
Celebrity Katherine Keating
Born in 1981, daughter Katherine in 2003, while she was still studying for an arts degree at the University of NSW (politics), Premier Bob Carr agreed to put her on his personal staff. She also was employed as an adviser in the Labor government.
After this her professional life then became a series of charity boards: the Sydney Cancer Foundation, the SAD Kids Foundation, the Young Garvan Committee and the National Institute for Dramatic Arts.
During her years in New York she collected more board seats: the performance committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the ambassadors’ council of the International Crisis Group, and an advisory committee for the Global Poverty Project. She became an assistant producer on a Churchill biopic, The Darkest Hour, went to Los Angeles for the Oscars and to Utah for the Sundance Film Festival. In 2018 she became the “chief sustainability officer” at Maverick, a Beverly Hills entertainment-management company.
In Amerika she became heavily involved in the entertainment world and reached the status of a celebrity.