BRISBANE, Australia: Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate met with the families of Australian soldiers killed in recent conflicts yesterday and took a front-row fighter jet seat as their tour headed north.
The royal couple were presented with a boomerang for their infant son, George, and delighted Olympians and ordinary folk alike during a whistlestop tour of Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city. Huge crowds turned out to greet the imperial pair, who began their day at the Amberley Air Force base with military formalities including a guard of honour and flyover by two F/A-18 Super Hornets.
William, who trained with Britain’s Royal Air Force and whose grandmother Queen Elizabeth II is Australia’s head of state, was first to inspect the next-generation Boeing fighter jet, offering his wife a tongue-in-cheek invitation as he climbed aboard.
“Do you fancy jumping in the back?” he joked.
Dressed in a blue and white poppy print dress from L K Bennett, the Duchess took straight to the cockpit, keenly inspecting the jet’s dials and controls.
Poppies are a symbol of remembrance in the military community.
Air Force chief Air Marshall Geoff Brown said the couple were impressed by the Australian weather compared with neighbouring New Zealand, where they were last week.
During their tour of the base twins Elijah and Tobee Dyer, aged three-and-a-half, presented Kate with a tiny boomerang — an Aboriginal tool — for her infant son George who remained in Sydney yesterday.
“It’s for George from us,” Elijah told the duchess.
Prince George has been a big hit on his first tour abroad, winning a legion of his own fans including six-month-old Alyssa McCabe, who was offered up by mother Jillian for a play-date and held fast to Kate’s hand when introduced, prompting laughs about her “iron grip.”
Another, 10-month-old Grace Farrelly, won the crowd over during a later meet and greet in central Brisbane with a floral head-dress and pink t-shirt emblazoned with “Marry Me George”. After planting a tree at the base’s memorial garden the Duke and Duchess hosted a reception for the families of Australian troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. AFP