Royals wave goodbye to Aussie fans

Sonia Kohlbacher
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have waved goodbye to royal watchers Down Under, jetting off to the Pacific for four days of engagements that will bring global attention to environmental and education causes.

They were greeted by crowds of fans in Queensland’s Hervey Bay on Tuesday after spending the night on Fraser Island.

Their two-day stay in Fiji will kick off with an official welcome upon touching down in Suva in the afternoon, followed by a state dinner hosted by Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will then head to Tonga.

It has been a jam-packed trip so far for the couple who announced Meghan’s pregnancy after landing in Sydney.

After a gruelling week of engagements, the duchess cut back on some appearances on Sunday so she could rest.

However she bounced back on Monday to join the duke on the world’s biggest sand island, known as K’gari.

Meghan spent most of the day at a luxury resort, avoiding the bumpy terrain Harry needed to traverse to carry out his official engagements.

Harry was there to unveil a plaque adding the holiday destination’s 83,757 hectares of pristine rainforests to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy project.

He paddled barefoot in the sacred waters of Lake McKenzie and was briefed by Butchulla elders about the ancestral significance of various sites across the island.

“I think he was blown away … the size of the timbers we took him to, the beauty of the lakes, you know, talking with our songman, our rangers, and hearing it from both points of view on things he had not thought about,” Aunty Nai Nai said.

Land and sea rangers and dancers who met the duke told of a mutual respect, acknowledging the significance of his visit to their land and new understanding of traditional Butchulla practices.

The royal couple later reunited for an afternoon stroll along the island’s Kingfisher Bay jetty, delighting locals.

The duchess is expected to be by her husband’s side at all their planned engagements in Fiji and Tonga.

In the meantime, Harry’s Invictus Games for wounded defence veterans continue in Sydney.

The duke and duchess are expected to catch some of the final events when they return to the harbour city on Friday.

They are due to jet off to New Zealand on Sunday for the last stops on their 16-day tour.

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