I was well prepared: the affection that my grandmother The Queen has for this nation is infectious.The Prince of Wales
Thank you for your warm welcome.
Your Excellency, Sir Nicholas, Mr President, thank you for inviting me and Catherine this afternoon. There cannot be a more impressive place than the iconic Sydney Opera House to begin our first visit together to Australia. 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.
My last visit to Australia in 2011 was at a sad and testing time for the nation. A cyclone followed by flooding had devastated lives and property in Queensland, and bush fires had ravaged the State of Victoria. I am sorry to return to find that, yet again, fellow Australians in north Queensland are coping with the aftermath of another destructive 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. On my first visit here as an adult in 2010, I remember just how bowled over I was by Sydney: 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.
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.
Harry felt very honoured to be invited to the centenary Fleet Review in Sydney harbour last year; and I know how much my father enjoyed his visit here in honour of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. My mother’s deep affection for Australia which you were so kind to reciprocate needs no reminder.
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. 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. Thank you.