Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

Fans enjoy Harry's visit to Sydney

Prince Harry receives a royal salute at Garden Island Naval base in Sydney (AP)

Harrymania came to Sydney today - but it was Prince Harry rather than Harry Styles who was faced with thousands of screaming fans.

While pop star Styles is in the city on a national tour with boy band One Direction, the prince arrived in Australia for his first official visit to represent the Queen at the International Fleet Review, which features around 40 warships from 17 countries.

And after a warm welcome when he arrived at the city's Kingsford-Smith Airport last night, thousands of people turned out this afternoon for a chance to see the royal as he did a meet-and-greet before boarding a boat for a reception with Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

There were screams from those at Campbell's Cove, in the shadow of Sydney Harbour Bridge, as Harry chatted, shook hands and posed for photos before boarding a small boat to cross the harbour for the reception at Kirribilli House, on the north side of the bay.

There were shouts of "give us a wave Harry" from many women and he boarded the boat clutching a tiny koala teddy bear, one of several gifts he received from wellwishers.

Sinead Kirrane and Rebecca Thompson, two Irish women living in Sydney, were in the crowd.

Miss Kirrane, 23, originally from Galloway, said: "He seems fun, I'm a big fan.

"We are excited to see him and maybe get a smile from him."

Asked which Harry she wanted to see more, Dubliner Miss Thompson, 24, said: "(Prince) Harry is a world icon. One Direction are big at the moment but they will come and go."

Harry, 29, is one of the younger royals being looked at to increasingly take on the more long-haul parts of the monarchy's workload.

He previously visited Australia in 2003.

The review is being held to commemorate 100 years since the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN) first modern warships sailed into Sydney, seen as a defining moment in the country's maritime history.

More than a million people are expected to line the banks of Sydney Harbour for the main day of the review and to catch a glimpse of the prince.

The event involved 8,000 naval personnel and Royal Australian Air Force aircraft, plus 16 sail ships, and will finish with a firework display over Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Britain has sent one of its latest and most advanced ships, Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring, to represent the Royal Navy.

This morning Harry was greeted by a crowd of hundreds as he embarked on survey ship HMAS Leeuwin at the city's Garden Island naval base before inspecting the flotilla.

Harry was joined on board by Mr Abbott and governor general Quentin Bryce, the Queen's representative in Australia, before a 100-gun salute.

He follows in the footsteps of his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, who took part in a naval review in Sydney in 1986.

The prince wore a white British Army tropical dress uniform with the sky blue beret of the Army Air Corps as he took the salute.

Among the crowd were naval trainee medics Ayesha Sweeney, 19, and Renee Simmons, 21, who live six hours' drive away at their base in Aubrey, New South Wales.

Ms Simmons described Harry as "gorgeous", adding: "I'm in love. He wears a uniform very well."

Miss Sweeney added: "It was good to get a royal visit today for the review, it adds that extra excitement to it."

Sydneysider Meagan Roberton, 50, who went to the street outside the base with her family, said: "We didn't expect to see him today so it's an added bonus.

"He's gorgeous, we all love him in Australia. I remember when he was born."

Mr Abbott braved the issue of Australian republicanism during the speech at Kirribilli, his official residence.

In front of Harry and an audience which included disabled Australian war veterans, Paralympians and young entrepreneurs, he said: "Prince Harry, I regret to say not every Australian is a monarchist.

"But today everyone feels like a monarchist.

"You grace us as your family has graced our nation from its beginning...as the Crown is a symbol of our stability, continuity and decency in public life."

Arriving at Kirribilli amongst a host of boats and circling helicopters, Harry was greeted by Mr Abbott, wife Margie and two of his three daughters, Frances and Bridget.

He then chatted with more locals who had gathered at the gates of the house before heading inside.

He asked one "what do you think of your new neighbour?" - a reference to Mr Abbott's recent general election win.

The Prince's whistlestop visit will see him go to Perth tomorrow before heading to Dubai to attend a fundraising event for his Sentebale African Aids charity.

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