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Charles and Camilla get rapturous welcome in Sydney

Published 12/11/2015

The Prince of Wales is mobbed by a large crowd of well-wishers in the centre of Sydney
The Prince of Wales is mobbed by a large crowd of well-wishers in the centre of Sydney

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have received a rapturous welcome in Sydney as a poll revealed a majority of Australians want their own head of state and not a King Charles.

Thousands filled the city centre to greet Charles and Camilla as they went on a walkabout to meet locals and tourists.

The royal couple stopped in Martin Place - the scene of a terrorist siege at a cafe last December that left two dead - and were overwhelmed by well-wishers wanting to shake their hands or take their photograph.

Cheers rang out when the prince and duchess first arrived and there was even an impromptu rendition of Happy Birthday, begun by one group anticipating Charles' 67th birthday on Saturday.

But in contrast to the welcoming scenes, an Australian Republican Movement (ARM) poll found 51% of those questioned would prefer a homegrown national figurehead and not a member of the British monarchy.

The poll of 1008 voters, commissioned by the ARM and conducted by Essential Research from November 5 to 8, asked: "When Prince Charles becomes King of Australia, will you support or oppose replacing the British monarch with an Australian citizen as Australia's head of state?"

Out of those questioned 22% of voters were undecided and 27% opposed replacing the British monarch with an Australian citizen.

Peter FitzSimons, ARM's chairman, said: "The Republican Movement welcomes Prince Charles and Camilla to Australia and hopes, as with all British tourists who make the journey down under, they enjoy their stay.

"We look forward to the day when members of the Royal family make the trip as our equals and not Australia's current and future rulers."

Charles held talks with Australia's staunch republican prime minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday.

Mr Turnbull, a former ARM chairman, said before the meeting Charles would become King of Australia - unless there was a constitutional change.

The Duchess of Cornwall was left hankering for a horse ride when she visited the home of an Australian mounted police unit.

Camilla was in her element as she toured the barracks of the New South Wales Mounted Police in a Sydney suburb with Charles.

She is president of equine charity The Brooke and is a keen horse rider and a few weeks ago hosted a demonstration of horse whisperer Monty Roberts for supporters of The Brooke.

After watching a display of horsemanship and training for crowd control by officers from the unit, believed to be the oldest continuous mounted police unit in the world, the riders came forward on their horses to meet the royal guests.

Camilla told Sergeant Karen Owen: "They are really nice horses, I would love to have a ride."

During the day Camilla visited the Victoria Barracks home of the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police to mark the Corp's 100th anniversary which will be celebrated next year.

The Duchess became the unit's Colonel-in-Chief in 2012 and chatted to a range of soldiers from veterans to the newest members aged just 18.

The military police serve in the army in Australia and around the globe, and over the last fifteen years have been deployed to Solomon Islands, Pakistan, Lebanon and Iraq and Afghanistan.

Camilla told the selected group of soldiers and officers she wanted to reflects on the corps in three ways: "Firstly, we look back on our history: the sacrifices made, the traditions set, and the legacy left to us by previous generations of Australian military police.

"Secondly, we take stock of the present; the strength and values of soldiers, officers and their families, which has won the recognition of our institution in the eyes of the army and the nation.

"Finally, we pause and look to the future, always aware that the corps is properly prepared to meet the challenges of these uncertain times.

By focussing in this way, we can be sure that those gathered in 100 years' time will take as much pride in our corps as we do today."

Before leaving the Duchess cut the corps' birthday cake with a sword, and after her antics a few days when she jokingly pointed a knife at Charles, she resisted the temptation to make light of the sabre as she was helped by a young soldier.

The Head of the corps, Brigadier Cheryl Pearce, said: "It's a real honour to have the Duchess here, when she became our Colonel-in-Chief in 2012 it was just the start of a tradition and we want to continue with her into the future.

"This was a chance for her to meet our soldiers and our soldiers to meet her."

Camilla revealed that Charles has a penchant for a certain dessert when she visited the Sydney headquarters of OzHarvest, an organisation which provides charities who feed those in need with unwanted produce from restaurants and other food outlets.

She toured the building and in the preparation kitchen met Chrissy Mulyneux who was making a mouth-watering bread and butter pudding with dried apricots and raisins.

The Duchess said "My husband loves this, I'd quite like some for my dinner," and OzHarvest founder and chief executive Ronni Kahn, 63, joked about a dinner Charles and Camilla will have with the Governor General tonight.

She said: "I think others have plans for your dinner, but we can send a tray over. We are all about feeding the hungry."

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