Royal Tour of Australia and Vanuatu
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are visiting Australia where His Royal Highness will officially open the Commonwealth Games on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen.
Their Royal Highnesses will visit Brisbane & the Gold Coast together; before His Royal Highness continues his visit to Queensland and the Northern Territory, concluding on Tuesday 10th April. The Prince of Wales will also visit the island of Vanuatu on Saturday 7th April.
In addition to the theme of Commonwealth, the tour will include engagements which focus on the themes of community, sustainability and disaster recovery and resilience; as well as visits which highlight The Prince's connections to the Australian Armed Forces.
The Tour will include visits to Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Bundaberg and Cairns in Queensland, and the Gove Peninsula and Darwin in the Northern Territory. In Vanuatu, The Prince will visit Port Vila on Efate.
Visit The Prince of Wales's official website to see more from the #RoyalVisitAustralia and #RoyalVisitVanuatu.
Official Opening of the 2018 Commonwealth Games
The 2018 Commonwealth Games is being hosted on the Gold Coast of Australia and is welcoming more than 6,600 athletes and team officials from 71 Commonwealth nations and territories.
On behalf of The Queen, The Prince of Wales officially opened the Games, reading out Her Majesty's customary message, calling on athletes to come together in the spirit of friendly competition. Read the full message HERE.
The Queen's message had travelled through all Commonwealth countries in The Queen's Baton Relay. The relay was launched at Buckingham Palace on Commonwealth Day 2017 and has since been on a 388 day journey, travelling over 230,000km.
The Prince last opened the Commonwealth Games on behalf of Her Majesty in Delhi in 2010. The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall also accompanied The Queen to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.
During the Royal visit to Singapore in 2017, Their Royal Highnesses participated in the Baton Relay for these Games, meeting athletes and para athletes who will compete in the Gold Coast.
The Prince of Wales has been a proud supporter of the Commonwealth for more than four decades and helps to maintain the Royal Family's strong connection to member countries through official visits, military links and charitable activities. His Royal Highness has visited 43 of 53 Commonwealth countries to date, many of them on several occasions. Several of His Royal Highness's charities have undertaken activities in Commonwealth countries for many years, often in collaboration with local organisations.
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall today arrived in Brisbane for the start of a tour of Australia and to officially open the 2018 Commonwealth Games on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen.
On arriving in Brisbane, Their Royal Highnesses were received by the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Lady Cosgrove at Old Government House.
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall then visited the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital to learn about Juiced TV which is a TV show made by children, for other youngsters in the hospital. The aim of the show is to benefit their health and wellbeing while in hospital.
Their Royal Highnesses attended a reception on the Gold Coast ahead of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, as guests of the Governor-General. There they met various other guests including The King of Tonga.
In the evening, The Prince and The Duchess attended the official opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games 2018.
During the opening ceremony, The Prince of Wales read a message from Her Majesty The Queen, which has travelled around the Commonwealth from London to Australia in The Queen's Baton.
His Royal Highness said:
“My wife and I could not be more delighted to be able to join all of you here on the Gold Coast this evening - and the many millions of you who are watching from your homes across the Commonwealth."
Their Royal Highnesses began the day with a tour of the Commonwealth Games Athletes’ Village accompanied by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Lucy Turnbull.
Included in the tour was a visit to the Prosthetics Workshop, which hosts a team of experts, incorporating orthotics and prosthetics professions, wheelchair technicians and welders who support these athletes.
The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games has the largest integrated para-sports programme of any major sporting event, with up to 300 para athletes competing in 38 medal events across seven sports.
Following this, Their Royal Highnesses enjoyed a visit to the Commonwealth Hub at Broadbeach to unveil the final plaque on the Commonwealth Walkway. The 10 km Commonwealth Walkway is the first of its kind outside the UK. It starts at the historic Southport Chambers, and finishes at the City of Gold Coast Council Chambers offering an insight into the story of the Gold Coast.
The Prince and The Duchess later viewed a Nippers Young Life Savers demonstration and beach rescue skills from the Surf Life Saving Queensland organisation.
In the evening, The Duchess of Cornwall attended the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games track cycling events and presented medals for the Men's 1000m Time Trial Para-Sport Tandem and Women's Team Pursuit race events. Her Royal Highness was accompanied by Anna Meares, Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Ambassador and celebrated Australian track cyclist.
Meanwhile, The Prince of Wales attended the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games swimming events and presented medals for the Women's 200m Freestyle and Men's Para-Sport 200m Freestyle race events.
Day Three of the Royal visit to Australia started with The Duchess of Cornwall in King George Square, Brisbane, while The Prince of Wales visited Bundaberg Rum Distillery.
The Prince viewed the renovated Bundaberg Rum Museum which highlights the history of Bundaberg Rum and more recently the community work the company has undertaken in response to the recent natural disasters in the region.
The flood and cyclone events that struck the area in January 2013 impacted enormously on a community that was already vulnerable from a flood event experienced in December 2010.
His Royal Highness then officially unveiled two new projects to The Queen's Commonwealth Canopy - a pan-commonwealth network of forest conservation projects, that will mark The Queen’s lifetime of service to the Commonwealth, while conserving indigenous forests for future generations.
On Lady Elliot Island, The Prince joined a roundtable discussion on Coral Resilience, with some of Australia’s corporate leaders on the challenges facing the world’s reefs and to discuss opportunities for the private sector to champion and invest in their conservation. Attendees included representatives from Qantas, BHP, Lendlease, The Walt Disney Company Australia, the Australian Government and the Irwin family.
His Royal Highness made his first speech on the environment in December 1968 and has long warned of the irreversible effects of climate change. As an environmental leader for over 40 years, he has worked with businesses, charities, governments and other organisations to help promote sustainable ways of living and working.
In February of this year, The Prince spoke at an event in London marking 2018 as the International Year of the Reef during which His Royal Highness said:
"The Ocean has an astonishing ability to heal itself if given the chance. So Ladies and Gentlemen, we simply have to give it that chance, perhaps its last, for we must not only conserve what remains of these unique and vitally important ecosystems, but we must also allow Nature to restore what has already been lost."
The day finished with a reception hosted by the Queensland Governor and will meet guests also turning 70 in 2018. The reception guest list also includes a number of the people The Prince has come across during his 15 previous visits to Australia.
On Day Four of the Royal visit, The Prince of Wales travelled to Vanuatu to see the work that had been done since cyclone Pam caused devastation on the island.
His Royal Highness first went to State House where he met the President of Vanuatu and received a Salusalu which is a ceremonial garland that is traditionally placed around the neck of visitors. They are usually produced from indigenous natural rope fibres, leaves and flowers. The Guard of Honour will be made up of members of the Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF), a paramilitary wing of the Vanuatu Police Force.
Red ceremonial mats were featured throughout the ceremonial greeting, as they are one of the most widely recognised and deeply respected aspects of Vanuatu's traditions. The mats are from the islands of Pentecost and Ambae. No major event in Vanuatu in life (or death) can occur without the display and exchange of these red mats. The mats are made from the dried leaf of the native Pandanus plant, which are prominent throughout Vanuatu.
The Prince then visited Haos blong Handikraf, and toured the market and view handicraft production with Manager Royal Pakoasongi and Women Leaders of the Handicraft Market Association, Helen Calo and Serah Tari. Haos blong Handikraf, or new market house, was established to provide a space to sell local products, drive creativity and revive handicraft skills that are at risk of being forgotten. It is part of the Seafront Beautification Project which was completed and officially opened in September 2017.
At Port Vila Central Hospital, Vanuatu's main hospital, His Royal Highness was able to see the restoration following damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam and meet with recently graduated and current students of the Vanuatu College of Nursing Education, before joining an afternoon tea reception.
Royal Visit Vanuatu finished with a traditional ceremony at a Nakamal, with Chief Sine Mao Tirsupe, President of the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs to the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs.
This included the drinking of special kava known as Royal Kava, which is reserved for special occasions and was only last consumed during a visit by The Duke of Edinburgh in 1974.
Kava is produced from the root of a plant closely related to pepper. The root is ground and then soaked in water to produce the drink. The consumption of kava was traditionally restricted to men but it has become commercialised and is now widely available to both men and women in urban centres. Kava is a major export earner for Vanuatu and there are over 100 kava bars in the USA.
To start day five of the Royal Visit, The Prince of Wales attended a Church Service at St John's Anglican Church in Cairns.
His Royal Highness is a committed Christian with a strong personal faith and much of his work is spent encouraging dialogue and good relations between faith communities.
The Prince then visited HMAS Cairns to present The Gloucester Cup and meet defence personnel. HMAS Cairns is an active naval base that provides operational, administrative and logistics support (including maintenance and training) to home ported ships, support craft, resident units and visiting Fleet Units. Approximately 925 Defence personnel are employed on the base.
HMAS Cairns is also an important staging base in the event of cyclones or other natural disasters along the Queensland coast and in the Coral Sea region. HMAS Cairns is currently the home port of two Hydrographic Ships, one Armidale Class Patrol Boat, two Cape Class Patrol boats and four Survey Motor Launches.
His Royal Highness has been Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps since 11 June 1977.
Next, The Prince visited Royal Flying Doctor Flying Service Cairns Base to celebrate the continuing innovation of the RFDS in this, its 90th year.
Using the latest in aviation, medical and communications technology, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) provides the finest care to anyone who lives, works or travels in rural and remote Queensland. The Queensland operation delivers more than 95,000 occasions of care in more than 85 locations to people across the state each year. Across Australia, the RFDS delivers more than 330,000 episodes of care per annum – that’s one person every two minutes.
His Royal Highness then joined a roundtable discussion on sustainable forestry at the World Heritage Listed Daintree Rainforest.
The Prince made his first speech on the environment in December 1968 and has long warned of the irreversible effects of climate change. As an environmental leader for over 40 years, he has worked with businesses, charities, governments and other organisations to help promote sustainable ways of living and working.
The Prince’s Rainforests Project (PRP) set out to find solutions to deforestation that would be economically viable, bring rural development and social benefits for people living in and around forests, whilst also protecting these vital ecosystems that harbour so many of the world’s wildlife species, store carbon and sustain water cycle. The International Sustainability Unit continued work begun by the PRP.
Day Five finished with a return visit to the Commonwealth Games to watch some basketball.
During six of the Australian tour, The Prince of Wales visited an indigenous community in Nhulunbuy, which is on the Gove Peninsula.
Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation was established to facilitate the protection, conservation and sustainable management of natural and cultural resource values in the Indigenous Protected Area surrounding the Gove Peninsula.
It operates a best-practice Ranger program which incorporates science-based management practices within traditional resource management. Many of their Rangers are senior clan leaders and emerging leaders. They also have a high number of female Rangers.
At Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Arts Centre, His Royal Highness was greeted by Rirratjingu traditional owner Wanyubi Marik and also escorted by a clan elder processional featuring traditional dance. The Prince then visited the centre, which showcases Nhulunbuy’s rich cultural and artistic heritage and the initiatives of the Gumatj Corporation.
Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre is the indigenous community controlled art centre of Northeast Arnhem Land. Buku-Larrnggay, meaning “the feeling on your face as it is struck by the first rays of the sun," and Mulka meaning “a sacred but public ceremony." It consists of two divisions, the Yirrkala Art Centre, which represents Yolngu artists exhibiting and selling contemporary art, and The Mulka Project, which acts as a digital production studio and archiving centre.
Next, His Royal Highness arrived at the Royal Australian Air Force (Royal Australian Air Force) before attending a reception for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Darwin Tourist Facility tells the story of the RFDS' history since its foundation in 1939 and includes interactive digital exhibitions showing visitors how Darwin looked during the Second World War.
The final day of the Royal Visit to Australia started with The Prince of Wales laying a wreath at the Darwin Cenotaph.
The Darwin Cenotaph commemorates Australian servicemen and women who have served in conflicts in which Australia has been involved.
The visit continued at NORFORCE situated at Larrakeyah Barracks, where His Royal Highness was briefed on the capabilities of the Regional Force Surveillance Unit (RFSU), before proceeding to HMAS Coonawarra and embarking on a Regional Patrol Craft for a short tour of Darwin Harbour.
Many of the RFSU soldiers are recruited from remote and regional communities and serve on a Part-Time basis. Prince Harry spent time with the Kimberly Squadron of NORFORCE in Kununurra in 2015.
Next, His Royal Highness visited the National Critical Care and Trauma Centre (NCCTRC) in Darwin. It provides Australia with a hub in the Northern Territory, in order to rapidly respond to emergencies across the Top End of Australia & the Asia-Pacific Region.
Established as a direct result of Royal Darwin Hospital’s response to the 2002 Bali bombings, the NCCTRC provides Australia with a strategically positioned hub in Darwin, Northern Territory, designed to rapidly respond to sudden health emergencies across the Top End of Australia and the Asia-Pacific Region, such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
#RoyalVisitAustralia concluded with a reception at Government House, where The Prince was introduced to a group of cross-generational Territorians before meeting school children and placing a message in a time capsule which will be opened in 30 years.