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Harry walkabout sealed with a kiss

Published 07/05/2015

Prince Harry will go on a walkabout at Sydney Opera House before leaving Australia
Prince Harry will go on a walkabout at Sydney Opera House before leaving Australia

Prince Harry has emerged from a farewell walkabout in the shadow of the famous Sydney Opera House with a kiss and a marriage proposal.

Hundreds gathered at the landmark to greet Harry, who has come to the end of a month-long attachment with the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

He spent more than half an hour meeting schoolchildren and shaking hands with fans, some holding signs which read "Marry me Harry", "His Royal Hotness" and "Gingers Rule".

Victoria McRae, 21, wore a sequinned Australian flag dress and a plastic gold crown as she proposed to the Prince before surprising him with a kiss, according to the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

Harry, dressed in his military uniform, told her he would "have to think about that", and then bit his knuckles.

"I got to kiss him. And I got to kiss the premier, who I didn't know was the premier," the student said. "I got Harry's lips, I only got the premier on the cheek."

She added it was not the first time she had popped the question to 30-year-old Harry, as o n one occasion in 2013 she kayaked on to Sydney harbour with a sign.

Meanwhile, alongside a video of the Prince meeting the public, Kensington Palace tweeted: "Prince Harry thanks the Australian public for the warm welcome during his stay."

Another fan, Anne Woods, gave him a stuffed koala for his new niece Princess Charlotte, but while he thanked her, he said he wanted to keep it for himself,

"It was just lovely, just lovely to give him a gift for all the charity work (the Prince does)," Ms Woods told AAP.

Also among those lining up to meet Harry was Graham Smyth, who took part in the Queen's visit to Australia in 1954 as a flag-waving six-year-old, the agency reported.

He said the opportunity to see the Prince in person was "too good to pass up".

Before meeting the crowds gathered near the opera house, the Prince took part in a military exercise in Sydney Harbour.

While Harry has been away, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's daughter, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, was born on May 2.

Harry, who moved down to fifth in line to the throne following the baby's arrival, described his niece as "absolutely beautiful'' and said he could not wait to meet her.

The Prince also met Lieutenant Ali Spearing, 31, a Royal Engineers officer who lost both legs in Afghanistan in 2011 and has undergone pioneering treatment in Australia to fit prosthetic limbs.

The officer travelled across the world to a clinic at the hospital to receive pioneering treatment from Associate Professor Munjed Al Muderis, a leading orthopaedic hip and knee surgeon and osseointegration specialist - where an implant is inserted into an amputee's limb.

Lt Spearing has had implants inserted into his limbs and, once these had integrated with the bone, robotic legs were fitted via the implants and he is now undergoing daily physiotherapy.

Harry told reporters Lt Spearing's operation "went very, very well" and had taken 10 hours.

He said: "He is over the moon and thrilled to bits to be up and walking again."

Macquarie University Hospital chief executive officer Carol Bryant said the team was thrilled by the royal visit.

She added: "We're very proud of the groundbreaking work being carried by Associate Professor Al Muderis. Our approach to treatment is to combine the best available knowledge and expertise to ensure patients like Lt Spearing receive the best possible treatment, compassion, support and care."

Lt Spearing said he was honoured Harry was making the trip to visit him .

Asked if he was nervous ahead of Harry's visit, he told Australia's ABC Radio: "A little (nervous), we have actually met a couple of times before, so it's not as bad as the first time."

Of attending a rehabilitation centre, Lt Spearing said: "It's actually quite nice, because you can sort of compare to each other and you see that you're not as bad as other people."

But due to the nature of his injuries, traditional prosthetics proved ineffective.

"Then I heard about this operation that's being done over in Sydney. It's worked out really well," he said.

His colleague had gone from struggling to walk to jogging back into the rehab centre.

While in Australia, Harry - an Army captain who is leaving the forces in June - has spent time training on helicopter simulators at barracks in Sydney, trained with the Special Air Service in Perth, and in Darwin he worked with members of Norforce, the mostly indigenous unit which patrols northern Australia.

The Prince said the training had "kept me incredibly busy" and added: "I consider myself incredibly fortunate to work with these guys."

He said: "It's been great fun. The soldiers over here have a similar sense of humour to our guys."

"All it's done is made me not want to finish my military career. I've been so well looked after."

Harry's previous experience serving with Australian troops was during his time in Afghanistan, and on a charity trek to the South Pole.

On Saturday Harry will begin an eight-day tour of New Zealand.

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