The Dutch king and queen paying tribute at the Canberra MH17 memorial last year.
The Dutch king and queen paying tribute at the Canberra MH17 memorial last year.

Australian families are joining Dutch royalty for the opening of a forest memorial to those who lost their lives in the MH17 disaster over Ukraine.

About 2000 people are expected in the small Dutch town of Vijfhuizen where 298 trees have been planted, one for each person killed three years ago when a Buk missile downed the Malaysian Airlines plane.

Of those killed, 38 were Australian citizens or residents, with a large contingent of their relatives due to attend Monday's ceremony along with Australia's ambassador to the Netherlands.

Of those aboard the MH17 flight from Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, 196 were Dutch.

On Monday morning the Australian and Dutch flags were flying at the MH17 National Monument site beside a large display of sunflowers which will bloom at the site each July.

Each of the young trees planted at the site has a name tag for an MH17 victim and their names will be read out at Monday's ceremony.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima will symbolically open the monument by laying flowers, as will 17 schoolchildren from the local community.

The monument is in the shape of a ribbon and was inspired by the black memorial ribbon used to symbolise mourning after the plane was hit and broke apart over Ukraine's dispute Donetsk region on July 17, 2014.

A Dutch-led investigation, including Australians, concluded last September that the Buk missile was fired by a launcher in rebel-held territory in Ukraine after crossing from Russia.

Russia has insisted the plane was brought down by the Ukrainian military.

The Australian government on Sunday reaffirmed its commitment to bringing the perpetrators to justice, with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop saying the Dutch-led prosecution was "independent, fair and transparent".


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