The Duke and Duchess of Sussex couldn’t hide their delight as they stepped out on the first official engagement of their tour to Australia this morning – hours after revealing their joyous baby news.
The mother and father-to be were at Admiralty House, the official Sydney residence of the Governor-General of Australia, where they are staying for the first few days of their marathon 16-day Commonwealth trip.
The couple were formally welcomed to Australia by his Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove and his wife, Lady Cosgrove, on the lawns of the historic building, which offers spectacular views across Sydney Harbour.
The couple were given presents of a kangaroo and her joey – ‘our first baby gift!’ Meghan exclaimed. And Harry coed over a tiny pair of Ugg boots. ‘These are awesome,’ he said.
Also present were flag-bearing representatives from each of the eighteen countries who are participating in the Invictus Games Sydney 2018, Harry’s inspirational competition for injured service personnel which he will formally open at the weekend.
The Duke and Duchess joined in on an official group photograph before an ‘official call’ with the Governor General and Lady Cosgrove, whom they met when they arrived from London the previous day.
Several congratulated them on their happy news, ‘Thank you so much,’ said Meghan. ‘We are very excited.’
The dignitaries also presented Harry and Meghan with the Akubras – traditional wide-brimmed Australian hats – gifted to them on the occasion of their wedding in May.
Admiralty house is the official Sydney residence of the Governor-General of Australia, the Queen’s official representative in the country of which she is still head of state.
It is located in the suburb of Kirribilli, on the northern foreshore of Sydney Harbour.
Its name originated from the fact that it served as the residence for the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Navy’s Australia Squadron from 1885 to 1913 MF.
The couple started by walking down the veranda to view the flags of each of the Invictus countries taking part. When congratulated by the media on their happy news, Harry smiled shyly and said ‘thanks’.
They also accepted good wishes from dignitaries including the Premier of New South Wales, the Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP.
‘Thank you, that’s very kind,’ said Meghan. The couple posed for a photograph on the croquet lawn with the Governor General and his wife with the magnificent backdrop of Sydney Opera House behind them.
The duchess, who hasn’t been to Australia before, marvelled at the view. The foursome were then joined by the Invictus representatives for another group photograph and chatted with them for a few minutes before walking into the house to sign the visitor’s book.
Harry sat down first, followed by Meghan, and the prince watched on proudly as his wife, a former calligrapher, signed with a flourish.
Inside the mansion’s sitting room, the couple immediately spied a large cuddly kangaroo sitting on the table with, appropriately, a Joey in its pouch.
They laughed as they saw it, Meghan exclaiming: ‘That’s so cute, our first baby gift!’ ‘There you are, ‘ said Sir Peter, as Harry leant forward to examine the Joey. ‘And this is your second,’ the Governor-General continued, as his wife handed the prince a pair of tiny Ugg boots.
‘Very Australian Ugg boots,’ said Lady Cosgrove. ‘These are awesome,’ said Harry as he posed for the cameras holding them. The couple were also handed a pair of traditional Australian wife-brimmed Australian Akubras hats as a belated wedding gift.
‘When you go to Dubbo you’ll see some of these,’ said Sir Peter. ‘Thank you so much,’ said Meghan. The four then sat down for a half hour official meeting. ‘Your Royal Highnesses, welcome to Australia,’ said Sir Peter, ‘may we on behalf of all Australians congratulate you both on the announcement that you are expecting a baby.
We are delighted, it’s amazing, and I know that the people who are already excited to see you will just be enthralled by the fact of this wonderful news.’
After thanking him Harry said: ‘Thank you very much for having us and letting us stay in your wonderful house. And thank you very much for organising the weather! Let’s hope the rain stays off!’
Following the meeting the Duke and Duchess headed to Taronga Zoo to officially open the new Taronga Institute of Science and Learning.
They were given a private tour and met with some of the animals on the ‘breeding programme’ including koala bears.
The royal couple arrived on Monday on a Qantas A380 flight from London via Singapore, and touched down at Sydney Airport to be greeted by hundreds of supporters.
Meghan, wearing skinny black pants and a black, burgundy trimmed coat, was smiling and clutching folders, while Harry gave a thumbs up to bystanders.
The couple is due to spend a week in Australia, the Duchess of Sussex’s first ever trip Down Under, before jetting to Fiji on October 23 where they will spend two days.
On Sunday, October 28 they will cross the Tasman Sea to New Zealand, visiting Wellington, the Abel Tasman National Park, Auckland and Rotorua before heading home on Wednesday, October 31.
The announcement of the pregnancy confirmed weeks of speculation from royal watchers about why Meghan was not joining Harry on his Sydney Harbour Bridge climb set for Friday.
Sydney’s weather is expected to be drizzly and cool on today, with showers forecast for most of the week.
This won’t be the first time Harry has had to brave the rain in Sydney. Last year, he made a whirlwind visit to cast his eye over the Invictus Games preparations, where he charmed his fans during torrential rain.
Ready for battle! The UK’s 72-strong Invictus Games squad takes off to join Harry and Meghan in Sydney for the competition
Dozens of sick and wounded ex-forces personnel are on their way to Sydney to compete for their country in the annual Invictus Games.
Competing against 17 other nations the 72-strong UK team will battle for medals in eleven sports across Greater Sydney, including at Sydney Olympic Park and on and around Sydney Harbour.
Those selected for the squad include veterans and wounded, injured and sick (WIS) military personnel.
The team will be in Australia at the same time as Prince Harry, founder of the games.
The Duke of Sussex arrive with his pregnant wife Meghan, earlier on Monday.
Captain of Team UK, Mark ‘Dot’ Perkins said: ‘Today is the culmination of months of careful preparation by all 72 competitors and the many staff, friends and family who have supported us. The next two weeks will demonstrate the unique power of sport to support recovery. Team UK are ready, raring to go and enjoying the camaraderie which the Armed Forces is famous for.’
The opening ceremony will be on October 20 at the Sydney Opera House with the games taking place over seven days.
The UK’s squad was selected from 451 applicants. The selection process takes into account the benefit a person will get from competing.
Team UK has been delivered through a partnership of Help for Heroes, The Royal British Legion and the Ministry of Defence.
Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson wished the team well.
He said: ‘I wish all of our UK competitors the best of luck in Australia. The word ‘Invictus’ means unconquered and perfectly embodies the fighting spirit of our Armed Forces and ex-service personnel. Meeting many Invictus competitors this year I learnt how sport is spurring on recovery.
‘Our Armed Forces have a world-class attitude and I am sure they will make their mark.’
The tour coincides with the games, which start in Sydney on Saturday. The sporting event, founded by Harry in 2014, gives sick and injured military personnel and veterans the opportunity to compete in sports such as wheelchair basketball.
Harry and Meghan will attend the games’ opening and closing ceremonies. In all, they have 76 engagements scheduled over 16 days in Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.
The royal couple’s visit comes six months after Harry’s father, Prince Charles, made his 16th official visit to Australia, primarily to open the 21st Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast city in Queensland.
‘He couldn’t be happier’: Prince Harry is an ’emotional wreck but in a good way’ say insiders after he and Meghan announce they’re expecting the baby ‘he’s wanted for a long time’
By Rebecca English
Prince Harry is ‘happier than he has ever been’ as he and Meghan prepare to become parents next spring.
He has been an ‘emotional wreck – but in a good way!’ since discovering the Duchess of Sussex is pregnant, one source said last night.
‘It is something he has wanted for a long time and he couldn’t be happier. He is so protective of her,’ the source added.
The news was announced by Kensington Palace yesterday after the smiling couple arrived in Sydney for the start of a gruelling 16-day tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga.
They insisted on going ahead with the trip in spite of Foreign Office advice to pregnant women about the risk of the Zika virus. There is no vaccination to prevent infection by the virus, which causes foetuses to develop severe deformities, but the couple will still travel to Fiji and Tonga next week,
Last night it emerged:
- Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland was among the first to know – likely told in person when she visited London last month.
- Miss Ragland was ‘very happy about this lovely news’ and ‘looks forward to welcoming her first grandchild’.
- Meghan’s estranged father Thomas Markle is ‘absolutely delighted’ and told her by letter: ‘You will make a great mother’. Kensington Palace refused to comment on whether Meghan had told her father directly.
- The baby will be seventh in line to the throne and likely be titled Earl of Dumbarton or Lady (first name) Mountbatten-Windsor unless the Queen bestows prince or princess on them.
- Moments after the baby announcement, Sarah Ferguson began tweeting a series of pictures from her daughter Princess Eugenie’s wedding day last Friday – leading some to question if she felt upstaged.
Meghan, 37, has ‘just’ had her 12-week scan, the Mail understands. It means she is already in her second trimester, when the risk of miscarriage is deemed to lessen considerably.
The couple excitedly told the rest of the Royal Family last Friday when they saw them at Princess Eugenie’s wedding.
The joyous news sets the seal on a whirlwind year for Harry, 34, who in recent years has made no secret of his desire to settle down and start a family.
It is only 12 months since the couple stepped out together in public for the first time, when they appeared together at the Invictus Games in Toronto. At the time, Meghan was still living full-time in Canada, although preparing to move to London, and the couple were not even engaged.
After Harry popped the question at the end of last year, they married in May and just two months later, towards the end of July, conceived their first child.
In mid-July, Harry and Meghan were on a ‘mini-moon’ royal tour to Dublin, their first trip together as a married couple. And on August 4, they were partying at the wedding of Harry’s best friend Charlie Van Straubenzee.
Yesterday a Kensington Palace spokesman said the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were all ‘delighted for the couple’.
‘They were able to share their happy news with the Royal Family in person at Friday’s wedding,’ said an aide, which may have accounted for their low-key appearance at the nuptials.
A friend added: ‘They didn’t make a grand announcement but had conversations with their family and friends and told them their news.’
Meghan is said to be in ‘good health’ and has not had to cancel any public appearances because of her pregnancy, unlike the Duchess of Cambridge who sadly suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, a several form of pregnancy-related sickness.
Her pregnancy is likely to be monitored closely, however, as by the age of 35 any woman expecting a baby is technically classed by doctors as a ‘geriatric mother’.
The couple’s tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga will be highly demanding. It includes opening the prince’s inspirational Invictus Games for injured service personnel in Sydney later this week.
Harry and Meghan have insisted their trip to the two most remote South Pacific islands will go ahead despite the risk of Zika there, which can cause abnormalities in foetuses. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises pregnant women to avoid ‘all but essential travel’ there.
A source told the Mail last night: ‘It’s early days but everything seem to be progressing well and there won’t be changes to the Duchess’s diary. She has a busy tour ahead of her.’
It is believed one of the first to know about the pregnancy was Meghan’s mother, whom friends suspect she told in person when she came to visit her in London last month.
In a statement issued through Kensington Palace – no less – Miss Ragland said she was ‘very happy about this lovely news’ and ‘looks forward to welcoming her first grandchild’.
Speculation has raged in recent months that the yoga teacher and geriatric therapist would move to London permanently to support her daughter – and now her grandchild too.
It emerged she gave up her full-time role as a social worker in May, then last month she was spotted taking baby-care classes in Pasadena, California, with reports in some international media claiming it was because Meghan does not want to hire a nanny.
But senior royal aides played down any suggestion Miss Ragland would move to London, with one telling the Mail: ‘This is just not true.’ Another added: ‘Meghan is very close to her mother and they see each other as much as they possibly can. Once the baby is born, of course Doria will be keen to visit her grandchild frequently. But she has her own life and home in LA, with her dogs, and it will continue that way.’
Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, from whom she is estranged after a series of hugely public embarrassments, is believed to have been informed by Miss Ragland ‘a little while ago’, said a friend, and is ‘absolutely overjoyed’ at the news.
Last year, asked if they had plans to try for a baby, Harry replied: ‘Not currently, no,’ garnering a laugh from his then wife to be. ‘Of course, one step at a time and hopefully we’ll start a family in the near future,’ he added.
Around the time she met the prince, in the spring of 2016, Meghan gave an interview to Best Health Canada when she said becoming a mother was ‘on her bucket list’, adding: ‘I can’t wait to start a family, but in due time.’
In its statement yesterday, Kensington Palace said: ‘Their Royal Highness the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that the Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the spring of 2019.
‘Their Royal Highnesses have appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public.’
The couple’s new baby will be seventh in line to the throne but will not be a prince or princess because of rules brought in by George V. Instead, a son would be styled the Earl of Dumbarton, one of Harry’s lesser titles, and a daughter Lady (first name) Mountbatten-Windsor.
What’s on? The itinerary for Harry and Meghan’s tour around Australia and New Zealand
Tuesday, October 16: Sydney, Australia – The first day of the tour will begin at Admiralty House, where Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove will welcome the couple alongside representatives from each of the 18 countries participating in the Invictus Games. The Duke and Duchess will then travel to Taronga Zoo to officially open the new Taronga Institute of Science and Learning. They will later visit the Sydney Opera House, where they will have an opportunity to meet members of the public as they walk along the forecourt. The day concludes with a reception at Admiralty House
Wednesday, October 17: Dubbo, Australia – The couple will fly to Dubbo, in the New South Wales central west. On arrival, the Duke and Duchess will visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service. They will also will see first-hand the hardships local drought affected farmers are facing by visiting a local property. The Duke and Duchess will then travel to Victoria Park to join people from Dubbo and surrounding areas at a picnic, followed by a visit to a local school
Thursday, October 18: Melbourne, Australia – Harry and Meghan will fly to Melbourne where the day will begin with a short walk to Government House, meeting members of the public along the way, before attending an official reception. The royal couple will later visit a social enterprise café. In the afternoon, the Duke and Duchess will visit a primary school to meet students who are involved in sustainability programmes. Upon departure from the school, The Duke and Duchess will travel on an iconic Melbourne tram to South Melbourne beach
Friday, October 19: Sydney, Australia – In the morning, Harry and Meghan will visit Bondi Beach. Before departing, the Duke and Duchess will have an opportunity to meet members of the public. Later that morning, the couple will take part in a youth advocate programme. Following this event, the Duke will climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge to officially raise the Invictus Flag, marking the arrival of the Invictus Games to Sydney. Their Royal Highnesses will conclude the day with calls on the Leader of the Opposition at Admiralty House, and the Prime Minister at Kirribilli House
Saturday, October 20: Sydney, Australia – The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will travel by boat to attend the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge on Cockatoo Island. In the evening, Harry and Meghan will attend a reception at the Opera House, prior to attending the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 Opening Ceremony. Prince Harry will give a speech at this event
Sunday, October 21: Sydney, Australia – Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex will watch some Invictus Games events, including cycling and sailing. They will attend a lunchtime reception hosted by the Prime Minister with Invictus Games competitors
Monday October 22: Fraser Island, Australia – Their Royal Highnesses will travel to Queensland’s Fraser Island or K’gari as it is known by the Traditional Owners the Butchulla people, as part of the dedication of the site to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC). The couple will then meet with local elders and national park rangers to learn about the Island. From here, Their Royal Highnesses will travel to the beach to learn about the history in the Island’s logging trade, as well as its use as a training base for the Australian Z Special Unit during the Second World War. Their Royal Highnesses will then travel to Kingfisher Bay by boat
Tuesday, October 23: Suva, Fiji – Their Royal Highnesses will be greeted by a Guard of Honour at Suva airport, before calling on His Excellency The President of Fiji at Borron House. The Duke and Duchess will then attend an official welcome ceremony in the city centre’s Albert Park. From there, The Duke and Duchess will leave Albert Park for the Grand Pacific Hotel to attend a Reception and a State Dinner hosted by The President of Fiji, at which The Duke will speak
Wednesday, October 24: Suva, Fiji – His Royal Highness will lay a wreath at the Fiji War Memorial, and meet a number of Fijian war veterans, some of whom served with the British Armed Forces. Their Royal Highnesses will then visit the University of the South Pacific campus in Suva. From here, Their Royal Highnesses’ programme will split. The Duke will travel to Colo-i-Suva Forest Park, and The Duchess to the British High Commissioner’s Residence. The Duchess will then travel to Suva Market
Thursday, October 25: Nadi, Fiji and Nuku’alofa, Tonga – The Duke and Duchess will travel to the city of Nadi in Western Fiji, where they will attend a special event at Nadi Airport. After an official welcome ceremony, The Duke and Duchess will unveil a new statue commemorating Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba. From Nadi Airport, Their Royal Highnesses will take a chartered flight to Tonga
Friday, October 26: Nuku’alofa, Tonga and Sydney, Australia – The Duke and Duchess will visit the St George Building for a call on the Prime Minister S Akilisi Pohiva and members of the cabinet. From there, Their Royal Highnesses will attend an exhibition with The Princess Angelika at the Faonelua Centre. The Duke and Duchess will then travel to Tupou College. The Duke and Duchess will travel to The Royal Palace for an official farewell with The King before departing for Sydney, where they will attend the the Australian Geographic Society Awards
Saturday, October 27: Sydney, Australia – Their Royal Highnesses will spend the afternoon at the wheelchair basketball finals of the Invictus Games at the Quay Centre, before attending the Closing Ceremony that evening at Qudos Bank Arena
Sunday, October 28: Wellington, New Zealand – The pair will attend the traditional welcome ceremony on the lawns of Government House. Their Royal Highnesses will be invited to hongi with the Governor-General’s Kuia and Kaumātua (Māori elders), before the pōwhiri, which includes a haka performed by members of the New Zealand Defence Force. Their Royal Highnesses will then travel to the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. That evening, the Duke and Duchess will receive official calls from the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition at Government House
Monday, October 29: Wellington and Abel Tasman, New Zealand – The Duke and Duchess will meet young people from a number of mental health projects operating in New Zealand. From Wellington, The Duke and Duchess will travel to Abel Tasman National Park. That evening back in Wellington, Their Royal Highnesses will visit Courtenay Creative for an event celebrating the city’s thriving creative arts scene
Tuesday, October 30: Auckland, New Zealand – Their Royal Highnesses will travel to Auckland, where they will firstly visit the North Shore to dedicate a 20 hectare area of native bush to The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy. They will then join the Prime Minister to visit Pillars, a charity operating across New Zealand. Later that afternoon, The Duke and Duchess will have the opportunity to meet the people of Auckland on the Viaduct Harbour, before attending a Reception hosted by the Prime Minister at the Auckland War Memorial Museum
Wednesday, October 31: Rotorua, New Zealand – The final day of their Royal Highnesses’ tour will take place in Rotorua. Next, The Duke and Duchess will head to Rainbow Springs to learn more about the centre’s kiwi breeding programme. Later that afternoon, the Duke and Duchess will head into the city for the chance to meet members of the public gathered there
Thursday, November 1: Their Royal Highnesses will return to Auckland that evening, before departing for London the following day.