Her special relationship with Prince Harry won her fans around the world and earned her the nickname “Harry’s favourite Aussie” and just days after celebrating her 99th birthday with a special message from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Daphne Dunne has passed away.
Daphne died on Monday at Sydney Adventist Hospital, where she had been for the last two months battling a severe bout of pneumonia. Her daughter, Michelle Haywood, and her granddaughters were by her side.
On Friday, Daphne appeared on the Today Show from her hospital bed, where the hosts read a special letter Harry and Meghan had sent her to celebrate her birthday. It read:
My wife and I send our warmest wishes to you on the occasion of your 99th birthday on Friday. We hope you have a wonderful celebration surrounded by family and friends and that you’ve managed to escape hospital. Congratulations on reaching this important and impressive milestone before your centenary year next year.
Happy birthday, Daphne.
Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex
Daphne celebrated her birthday surrounded by loved ones, with her daughter Michelle, granddaughters, nieces and her Pomeranian dog, Meeko being allowed to visit. Michelle told the Daily Mail “She had the most beautiful day, surrounded by so much love and colour and flowers, eeryone that walked past her hospital room was just blown away. No one could believe it was a hospital room. The staff were amazing. They made mum’s last few days beautiful.”
Following the announcement, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison paid tribute to Daphne on social media, tweeting “Very sad to hear well-known Prince Harry fan Daphne Dunne has passed away, just days after her 99th birthday. I met Daphne last year and she was simply delightful. My thoughts are with her family & friends.”
Daphne first caught Prince Harry’s attention during a walkabout at the Sydney Opera House in 2015. Noticing she was wearing a Victoria Cross, he approached her to ask about it.
At the time, Daphne told the Daily Telegraph, ‘He asked me about the Victoria Cross — he said he recognised that and wanted to know all about it.’
The medal was awarded posthumously to Daphne’s first husband, Lieutenant Albert Chowne, who showed superb heroism in March 1945, in a battle against Japanese troops in New Guinea. He died from his injuries.
Daphne meet Prince Harry again in 2017 and the Prince introduced her to the Duchess of Sussex during their tour of Australia last year. Meghan’s parting words to Daphne were “Hopefully next time we see you we’ll have a little one with us.”
Unfortunately, Daphne never got to see the baby who is due later this month.