LONGREACH, Australia: Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla arrive in outback Australia on Monday for a barbecue and a cold beer after a rousing reception in impoverished Papua New Guinea.
The couple, the latest senior royals to tour Commonwealth countries to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee, touch down in Longreach where they will visit the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
During a successful tour of PNG, Charles delighted locals with brief comments in pidgin while touring a village where they watched a traditional warrior dance and were welcomed by dancing girls in grass skirts.
“The welcome we received was so wonderfully warm and friendly and special that I promise you we shall leave here with immense regret, but also with the shouts of welcome ringing in our ears,” he said on Sunday.
Charles first visited the desperately poor Pacific nation when living as a student in Australia in the 1960s, and said he had “never forgotten the profound impact of that visit”.
On Monday morning the royals visited a youth development centre in the capital Port Moresby before Charles held an official meeting with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill while Camilla inspected a women’s refuge.
Charles has made clear he is looking forward to getting back to Australia and showing it to his wife.
It will be Camilla’s first time on Australian soil and her introduction will be Longreach, where Qantas was founded. It will be a searingly hot and windy day, forecasters warned.
The town is also home to the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, which was opened by the queen in 1988 as a memorial to the explorers, pioneers and settlers of remote Australia, many of whom arrived from Britain.
At the centre, the couple will meet cattle farmers and witness horsemanship and whip-cracking demonstrations, while they will also meet the team from the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which provides care for those in remote areas.
Charles will name a new plane for the service at the town’s Qantas museum.
But the highlight for locals will be a community barbecue at the Cattleman’s Bar and Grill, where many will get to meet their illustrious guests.
“There’s one woman who said she’d love to scrub the toilets just to be there,” Stockman’s Hall of Fame spokeswoman Helen House told ABC radio.
“I will take his Royal Highness over to the barbecue, maybe put a XXXX (cold beer) in his hands, give him some tongs and throw the cutlet on the barbecue,” she added.
There have been some logistical hurdles to overcome, including the realisation that the local airport’s plane stairs were not high enough for the royal jet.
But a spit and a polish for an old set from the 1950s, on loan from the Qantas museum, has overcome the problem.
“We’ve given them a bit of a facelift, a touch-up,” museum spokesman Tony Martin told the ABC.
It is a whistle-stop visit with Charles and Camilla jetting out late in the day for Melbourne. They also visit the cities of Adelaide, Hobart, Sydney and Canberra before going to New Zealand.
Support for the royals in Australia, a former British colony, remains strong, although debate flares periodically about whether ties to the monarchy should be cut and the nation become a republic.