Crowds welcome Charles and Camilla at start of Australia tour

The Prince of Wales was given a warm welcome by waiting crowds in Australia as he began a seven-day tour of the country which will see him launch the Commonwealth Games on behalf of the Queen.

Cheers rang out as Charles, accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall, who was dressed in pale green, stepped from their car at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane.

The couple spent time chatting to members of the public who had lined the paths of the Botanic Gardens to catch a glimpse of the royal visitors.

Young and old alike shouted "We love you Charles" or "Welcome to Australia" and presented them with bouquets of flowers.

Royal visit to Australia - Day One
The Duchess of Cornwall during the Ceremonial Welcome at Old Government House, Brisbane (Steve Parsons/PA)

The welcome comes after Australia's former prime minister, Paul Keating, claimed earlier this week that Charles would support Australia cutting ties with the monarchy and becoming a republic.

He told the Sunday Times: "I have no doubt he believes Australia should be free of the British monarchy and that it should make its own way in the world."

But he added: "None of that is to diminish the commitment and sense of duty that Prince Charles displays towards Great Britain and, as constitutional arrangements stand, towards Australia.

"He is a great friend of Australia -- there is no doubt about that."

Royal visit to Australia - Day One
The Prince of Wales inspects military personnel during the Ceremonial Welcome at Old Government House, Brisbane (Steve Parsons/PA)

Jordana McLean, 31, and her three-year-old daughter Madeleine were among those to spend a few moments chatting with the prince.

"I asked Charles if I should give the flowers to him or his wife," said Ms McLean, who lives in Brisbane. "He said she seemed to be doing quite well for flowers so he'd pass them on."

Faye Halliday, 59, from Brisbane, asked Charles about his new grandchild, due this month.

She said: "He said it was keeping him busy.

"I told him my two daughters were expecting babies a week apart and he said I would be a busy grandmother!"

Royal visit to Australia - Day One
The Duchess of Cornwall watched the Prince of Wales painting during a visit to the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane (Phil Noble/PA)

Amanda Courtney, 51, told Camilla that she had gone to Australia from Edinburgh to watch her son compete at the Commonwealth Games.

"I was so overwhelmed," she said. "I can't believe I've met royalty."

A 21-gun salute formed part of the welcome ceremony, and Charles spent some time inspecting the Royal Guard of Honour.

After their welcome to Brisbane, Charles and Camilla visited the city's Lady Cilento Children's Hospital.

Royal visit to Australia - Day One
Charles and Camilla donned aprons as they learned how to make Lamingtons at the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane (Phil Noble/PA)

There the duchess joked that the Britons would be beaten in the Commonwealth Games by the Australians in her favourite sport - swimming.

Bold Max Bishop, 12, said to Camilla: "So you're here for the Commonwealth Games. What's your favourite sport and who do you think will win the most medals?"

She responded: "Swimming - but I think the Aussies will take it."

Meanwhile, Max, along with Elizabeth Ross, nine, showed the royal couple how to make Australia's specialist cake, Lamingtons.

The children, both outpatients at the hospital, asked Charles and Camilla to put on aprons to make the cake - made from squares of butter cake or sponge cake coated in an outer layer of chocolate sauce and rolled in desiccated coconut.

Royal visit to Australia - Day One
Charles and Camilla meet Juiced TV star and patient Abigail Head (left) , and Juiced TV founder Philippa Russell at the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane (Phil Noble/PA)

The royal couple were told about the work of Juiced TV, an entertainment initiative which produces TV programmes made by children, for children, that benefits their health and well-being while in hospital.

As Charles left, he thanked staff and said: "Thank you so much for your time. I do hope our visit hasn't held up any operations."

Later on Wednesday, the prince will read the monarch's message at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Games on Australia's Gold Coast, calling on athletes to come together in the spirit of friendly competition.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are set to arrive in Brisbane for the #RoyalVisitAustralia. This will be the Prince of Wales's 16th visit to Australia and The Duchess of Cornwall's 3rd. Here we take a look at just some of the highlights of their tours here. pic.twitter.com/rUGDpoBiAs

-- Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) April 4, 2018

The royal couple arrived in Australia earlier this week. They have been staying privately at a friend's house in rural New South Wales, Clarence House confirmed.

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