Prince Charles has spent the last day of his tour to Australia in Darwin, where he honoured war casualties, was taken on a boat ride around the harbour, and placed items into a time capsule.
The Prince of Wales’ first visit on Tuesday was to the Darwin War Memorial, where 400 people had gathered to greet the heir to the throne. Prince Charles took time to shake the hands of as many of them as he could – despite the 34 degree heat.
Darwin war memorial stands on the site of a Japanese air attack in February 1942, the first battle engagement on Australian soil of the Second World War.
The Prince, wearing his medals, stood at the Cenotaph with fellow dignitaries while the Last Post was played; he then laid a wreath featuring his three feathers, to honour Australians fallen in all conflicts.
Following the short ceremony, the Royal met the parents of Scott Palmer, a Darwin Commando who served with the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan; Palmer was killed in a helicopter crash on 21st March 2010.
The Queen’s sin also met with the Bond family, who spent 50 years trying to get the body of Vietnam veteran, Reg Hillier, back to the Northern Territory, following his death in 1965.
The Prince then visited the Larrakeyah Defence Precinct, where he toured the army’s NORFORCE capabilities. The force, which surveys Australia’s northern region, is closely involved with communities in remote areas along the coast. It has the highest rate of Indigenous participation within the army.
While at the precinct, Prince Charles also met Yolngu man Sergeant Norman Daymirringu, who has served with NORFORCE for over 20 years.
He was shown the army’s latest camouflage attire, and spoke with Corporal Steven Leeder about his son, Prince Harry, who went barramundi fishing on his last visit Down Under. Harry spent time with the Kimberly Squadron of NORFORCE in Kununurra in 2015 whilst on a four-week secondment with the Australian army.
The former army captain and his future wife, Meghan, will be visiting Sydney in the autumn for the next Invictus Games.
The heir to the throne said he was “really touched” by the crowds who had come out to greet him in cities and towns across Australia – he has been to the Gold Coast, Cairns and yesterday, Gove – as well as the South Pacific island of Vanuatu, where Prince Philip is thought of as a god!
He said: “I love Australia and Australians and I love coming here. I was really touched by the welcome from the crowds here and in Vanuatu.”
The Prince was seen to stumble in the extreme heat and was helped by a member of the military walking alongside him; it is currently Autumn in Australia, but still very warm.
A recovered Prince then joined a NORFORCE commander on a boat across Darwin Harbour to see some of the unit’s systems and equipment, used to undertake surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
They also visited the final resting place of the USS Peary, an American warship destroyed during the bombing of Darwin with the loss of 92 sailors.
Charles’ next visit was to the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre, which was set up after the 2002 Bali bombings to respond to emergencies such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
Director of Disaster Preparedness Abigail Trewin led the Prince through the centre, highlighting some of the key pieces the 90-person group takes when attending international disasters.
Ms Trewin said one of the most important aspects of training the centre has provided to hundreds of people was heat management for those working in tropical climates. “I can’t tell you how impressed I am,” said the Prince, as he was shown a ‘pop-up’ surgical theatre, as well as vital life-saving equipment that can easily be transported abroad.
In the last official engagement of his Australian visit, Prince Charles met with a group of cross-generational Territorians at Government House, hosted by the Northern Territories (NT) Administrator Vicki O’Halloran.
He was then joined by local school children to contribute to a time capsule to be opened in 30 years’ time. The capsule included a message from the future King to the people of the NT, as well as items from the students.
Year 7 student Hasoni Al-Ibrahim said meeting the future King of England was a very special moment for him. “I found it very exciting and the Prince was also a very enthusiastic and fun character to be around and he was very approachable,” Hasoni said.
Zhuang Zhuang Sun, 12, said he hoped to be back in 30 years’ time when the capsule was opened. “We were mostly just talking about what we were going to put in the time capsule, like copies of the administrator award certificates, a copy of the medal and two railway spikes we had,” Zhuang said.
HRH then met schoolchildren and placed a message in a time capsule which will be opened in 30 years.
In the message The Prince said he had “met so many remarkable people making a profound difference in their communities.” #RoyalVisitAustralia pic.twitter.com/sxJOLE6OpL
— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) April 10, 2018
The Queen’s eldest son then planted a tree, native to the Northern Territory, on the grounds of Government House.
The end of Prince Charles’ visit to Australia coincides with the results to a new poll that shows opposition to a republic in Australia has risen to its highest level since 1999, when the last referendum on government was held.
A total of 41% of 1,639 people asked over four days in April said they would be against scrapping the Monarchy and becoming a republic, according to a survey conducted on behalf of The Australian newspaper.
This compares to 34% 19 years ago and 38% in August 2017.
In 1999, the referendum – hoping to see The Queen and Governor-General be replaced with a president – saw 54.87% vote against and 45.13% in favour.