Rested Meghan joins Harry for Fraser Island walkabout
The Duchess of Sussex joined her husband for a walkabout on Fraser Island, having spent the morning resting.
Meghan, wearing a striped dress by Reformation and brown leather lace-up sandals, clutched her baby bump for part of the walk under blue skies in Queensland.
The Duke had attended three of the day’s engagements on his own, including an unveiling of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, where he joked about plaque-unveiling running “in the family”.
Harry had told his pregnant wife to take it easy as the couple carry out a 16-day tour across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga.
Meghan was glowing as she arrived by car to meet her husband, having spent the morning at their hotel recuperating from the heavy schedule of the first week of their tour.
A royal aide said: ”She isn’t sick, she just had a tiring few days and we were concerned about the roads on the island which are incredibly bumpy and uncomfortable for anyone, let alone a pregnant woman.
“But the duchess was very keen to re-join the duke at the last engagement of the day to greet the people of the island.”
The parents-to-be were given gifts including flowers and bears during the walkabout and the duke was taken by a sign reading “Rangas rule”, an Australian slang reference to his ginger hair.
Jada Quinn, nine, said: “My dad is a ranga and I’m a little bit a ranga and he appreciated the sign.”
Her sister, Ella, 12, said: “It was a bit overwhelming, I started to cry a little bit. She was so kind and she shook my hand.”
Julianne, Ebony and and Lily Reid gave Meghan a home-made baby changing mat, with Harry asking if it had koalas on.
Meghan also bent down to speak to Noeline Walk, 85, Fraser Island’s oldest and longest-living resident at 45 years.
Mrs Walk said: “She asked me since I was local what i would suggest she have for tea,” Mrs Walk said.
“‘Seafood, of course!’ I told her. ‘Oh, I’ll have to give it a try’, she said.”
Earlier in the day, Harry was welcomed to Fraser Island = also known as K’Gari – by the Butchulla people with a traditional Welcome to Country Smoking Ceremony.
Aaron Henderson and Darren Blake wafted smoke from a bucket of burning paper bark and blue gum leaves towards him, while songman Fred Bulanyu Leone called out to their ancestors and tapped out a rhythm with a pair of bar gan – “killer boomerangs” – traditionally used for hunting.
Butchulla Land and Sea Ranger Conway Burns said: “When we die, we go through an initiation.
“Our spirit goes through our body and through our sacred lakes and up to the sky. It returns to our people in these trees.
“It’s great to be standing here, where our people stood hundreds of years ago.”
The duke said: “This is the best way to see these trees – standing tall and not logged and chopped.”
Harry was at Pile Valley to unveil a plaque for the dedication of the Forests of K’Gari to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, a project which sees countries designate areas of indigenous forest to be preserved in perpetuity.
Before he began speaking at the QCC unveiling, local Marilyn Clarke called out: “You are better looking in person!” – to which he replied: “I will take that as a compliment.”
He said: “This is actually the second time this plaque has been unveiled, which I know is highly unusual.
“The first time was by my father, the Prince of Wales, in Bundaberg earlier this year when he was visiting.
“I now have the privilege of unveiling it in situ.
“I know that my father came to K’Gari in 1994 for a day off during a royal tour so he has an appreciation of the importance of this place.
“Luckily we are both highly skilled when it comes to unveiling plaques … It runs in the family.”
The joke echoes one made by Harry’s grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, who opened a new stand at Lord’s Cricket Ground in 2017 with the quip: “You’re about to see the world’s most experienced plaque-unveiler”.
Children from the Butchulla people then performed a traditional dance with Harry clapping along, before he went down the line and shook the performers’ hands.
The QCC project was launched in 2015 in recognition of the Queen’s service to the group of nations.
Harry said: “Forty-two out of the 53 countries are now taking part and I hope that others will join soon.
“The programme is committed to raising awareness of the value of indigenous forests and to saving them for future generations.
“Put simply, without trees and forests, we don’t survive. It is a symbiotic relationship, and one that so many people still fail to realise.”
Fraser, the world’s largest sand island, has 206,970 acres of protected forest and became a Unesco World Heritage site in 1992.
The Satinay trees from the area are known for their hardiness in water and were used to build the docks in London in the 1930s.