Members of the public wait outside the Opera House to meet Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex in Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. (Dan Himbrechts/Pool via AP)

Prince Harry and Meghan start Aussie tour with baby gifts

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are on a 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific.

A beaming Duke and Duchess of Sussex thrilled thousands of fans outside the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday during their first meeting with the general public since the former Meghan Markle’s newly announced pregnancy.

Prince Harry and Meghan spent longer than the 20 minutes allocated in their schedule to speak to and shake hands with as many well-wishers as possible. Meghan, wearing a beige trench coat over a sleeveless cream dress by Australian designer Karen Gee, accepted cards and flowers from an enthusiastic crowd.

The news of the pregnancy was announced after the couple arrived in Sydney on Monday and 15 hours before their first public appearance. The two are on a 16-day tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand that their Kensington Palace staff said would not be altered despite confirmation that the American former actress is pregnant.

Among those taken by surprise by the announcement were their Sydney hosts, Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Lady Lynne Cosgrove. The governor-general, who represents Queen Elizabeth II, Australia’s head of state and Harry’s grandmother, sent staff to hastily buy a toy kangaroo with a joey in its pouch and a tiny pair of Australian sheep skin boots for their pregnant guest.

“Here’s your first gift for the nursery,” the governor-general told the couple during a welcome ceremony at his official residence, Admiralty House.

“Thank you, that’s so sweet,” Meghan said as she received the toy.

The pregnancy has made front-page news across Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald ran the headline: “A smooth ride to Sydney, but royals reveal bump on the way.” Darwin’s irreverent NT News chose the headline: “Ginger Pregs” — a play on a long-running Australian comic strip about a mischievous red-head boy called “Ginger Meggs.”

Outside the Opera House on Tuesday, Harry lingered longest with war widow Daphne Dunne, 98, whom he hugged as they chatted.

Related: Video: Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

Related: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to visit Australia, Fiji

It was the third time that they had met since Harry’s eye caught sight of a Victoria Cross medal on her chest during a Sydney visit in 2015. She explained that her first husband Albert Chowne had been given the highest award in the British honours system after he died in Papua New Guinea in 1945.

This time, Meghan joined Harry in greeting the Dunne, who admires the prince’s work with veterans.

“Oh my goodness, is this Daphne?” Meghan asked.

Dunne later said Meghan told her “she had heard all about me; she’s so beautiful.”

“I wished them well with the baby on the way and said this is what Harry has been waiting for so long,” Dunne added.

Before Megan donned her coat, her tight-fitting dress barely revealed a bump as they were welcomed at the first event of the day at the Sydney Harbour-side mansion where the two are staying.

The main focus of that engagement was to meet Invictus Games representatives from the 18 countries competing in the event that starts Saturday. The sporting event, founded by Harry in 2014, gives sick and injured military personnel and veterans the opportunity to compete in sports such as wheelchair basketball.

Several of the representatives congratulated the couple on their baby news. Meghan replied: “Thank you so much. We are very excited.”

The couple later travelled by boat to Taronga Park Zoo where they opened a research centre and met two 10-month old koalas that had been named after them.

They watched an indigenous dance company rehearse inside the Opera House before meeting the public.

The announcement of the pregnancy confirms weeks of speculation from royal watchers about why Meghan was not joining Harry on his Sydney Harbor Bridge climb set for Friday.

Harry, 34, and Meghan, 37 — along with Prince William and his wife, Kate, the duchess of Cambridge — have stepped to the fore in the last year as the 92-year-old queen slightly reduces her public schedule.

___

McGuirk reported from Canberra, Australia.

Kirsty Wigglesworth And Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial Fair Deal Panel comes to Lacombe

Panel asks whether Alberta is getting a fair deal in confederation

PHOTO: Kinsmen Auction supports Team Jigger

Over $30,000 auction items and cash donations were made to the event

Local Artist Donna Spencer featured at Lacombe Performing Arts Centre

LPAC is pleased to have “Wanderings: A Collection of Thoughts” currently on display

Lacombe Highway 12/Highway 2A water mains repairs continue

Discovery of multiple leaks on aged water infrastructure prompts repair

Granden Auto, Town of Blackfalds at odds over storage yard

Business owner believes the Town wants his business out of the downtown

WATCH: Night Among the Stars Celebrity Dance-off supports Lacombe BBBS

Over $12,000 raised for Dancer’s Edge Parents Association and Lacombe BBBS

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Wetaskiwin RCMP Investigate Shooting incident in Poplar Grove

VW sedan may be linked to Wetaskiwin gun incident

Wetaskiwin RCMP seeking witnesses to car-jacking

Armed theft resulted in two subjects facing multiple charges

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Most Read