The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge touched down on sunny Australian soil Wednesday afternoon, to officially begin the second leg of their journey through New Zealand and Australia.
As a mark of respect for Australia’s national colours, Catherine emerged from the RAAF VIP aircraft wearing a bright yellow dress by Serbian-born, London-based designer Roksanda Ilinic.
The new mum carried eight-month-old Prince George on her hip before handing him over to a doting Prince William in order to accept a large bouquet of flowers.
— Herald Sun (@theheraldsun) April 16, 2014
Greeted by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Prime Minister Tony Abbott, an unabashed fan of the British Monarchy, the young couple were then immediately whisked to the Sydney Opera House for a civic receyption, where 400 dignitaries eagerly awaited their arrival.
Thousands of royal enthusiasts greeted the motorcade with cheers and Australian flags freely supplied by Members of the Australian Monarchist League.
After a quick tour of the gorgeous Sydney Harbour, Prince William and his elegant bride made their way into the Sydney Opera House, where the future heir delivered an impassioned speech before assembled guests which included former cricket fast bowler Glenn McGrath and women’s cricket star Ellyse Perry, as well as children colourfully representing all the nations set to compete in the 2015 Cricket World Cup.
“There cannot be a more impressive place than the iconic Sydney Opera House to begin our first visit together to Australia,” said The Prince, expressing his and Catherine’s delight at visiting the Oceanic country. “I know that New South Wales is a very special place, and Catherine and I are looking forward to seeing that for ourselves over the coming days.”
Recalling his last visit in 2011, following the impact of a devastating cyclone and flooding in Queensland, and spreading bushfires in the State of Victoria, he expressed his sadness at returning to find the people of north Queensland struggling to rebuild their lives after yet another ravaging cyclone.
“Australia has much to contend with at the moment: your contribution to the ongoing search for MH370 has earned respect in every quarter of the globe. Australia’s determined and leading role in the search is at the very edge of technological ability and human endurance.
“You have also responded with great generosity in the past few days to the natural disaster afflicting the Solomon Islands, which is suffering dreadfully from floods and successive earthquakes. Australia has led the international response in a way that is testament to the strength of your partnerships with your neighbours, and the important role that Australia plays both regionally and globally.
“This visit to Australia has been one that Catherine and I have been looking forward to for a long time,” continued Prince William, who first came to Australia as a baby no older than his son Prince George. While this will be his third visit to Australia, it is also Catherine’s first.
“On my first visit here as an adult in 2010, I remember just how bowled over I was by Sydney,” he praised, “seeing the energy and diversity of this beautiful city, and understanding just how much Australia is the home of innovation, opportunity and possibility.”
“I was well prepared: The affection that my grandmother The Queen has for this nation is infectious,” he reflected, referring to Her Majesty’s 17 visits to the country.
“Her Majesty spoke recently of how, since her first visit here sixty years ago, she has been privileged to witness Australia’s growing economy and flowering self-confidence.”
“For Catherine, Harry and me, born in the early 80s, we’ve never known anything else – Australia and Australians have always been for us a beacon of confidence, creativity in the arts and sporting ability.”
The proud father of one thrilled the audience when he closed his speech by speaking about his teething toddler:
“I don’t think I could finish these brief words to you without mentioning one other family member, George, who is now busy forging his own link with Australia. Catherine and I were very grateful for the many kind messages and gifts from across the country that we received when George was born. I suspect George’s first word might be ‘bilby’ – only because ‘koala’ is harder to say.
— 7News Yahoo!7 (@Y7News) April 16, 2014
“We really look forward to our time here together as a family. Australia is an inspiring place, as this amazing Opera House shows so vividly, and I know that a truly unforgettable few days lie ahead. “
Following the reception, Richard Palmer tweeted that the young royals boarded a police launch, and headed out across the harbour, from the Man O’War steps to Admiralty House, to be reunited with their son.
The gruelling schedule resumes tomorrow at 11am, when The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit bushfire-ravaged areas in the Blue Mountains.
featured photo credit: Telegraph.co.uk/video via Twitter
photo credits: The Herald Sun and 7news via Twitter