SPECIAL DAY: Reader Ioana Valuch photographed Prince Charles surrounded by people and members of the press during his visit to Bundaberg.
SPECIAL DAY: Reader Ioana Valuch photographed Prince Charles surrounded by people and members of the press during his visit to Bundaberg. Contributed

Prince can't get enough: 'I love Australia'

PRINCE Charles has spoken of his love for Australia and the Australian people as he came to the end of his seven-day tour Down Under.

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, as well as the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.

More than 2000 people turned out to see His Royal Highness at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery last week.

"I love Australia and Australians and I love coming here,” he said.

"I was really touched by the welcome from the crowds here and in Vanuatu.”

The prince's tour came as the future of the monarchy in Australia remains a topic of debate.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that a poll conducted on behalf of The Australian newspaper had found opposition to a republic had risen to its highest level since 1999.

A total of 41 per cent of 1639 people asked over four days in April said they would be against scrapping the monarchy and becoming a republic, according to the Newspoll survey.

This compares to 34 per cent 19 years ago and 38 per cent in August 2017.

Half backed the push for a republic, while 9 per cent were uncommitted.

As well as Bundaberg, Charles visited Brisbane and Cairns on his tour, learned about the traditions of the indigenous communities in Gove, and opened the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on behalf of the Queen. He also took a day trip to Vanuatu, where thousands of people lined the streets to greet him.

His trip ended in Darwin on Tuesday, where Charles laid a wreath at Darwin Cenotaph before visiting the base of NORFORCE (North-West Mobile Force), an infantry regiment of the Australian Army Reserve.

There he spoke to soldiers who had worked with Prince Harry at the regiment during his four-week secondment with the Australian military in 2015.

He also visited the National Critical Care and Trauma Centre, which was set up after the 2002 Bali bombings to respond to health emergencies such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

"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.

Charles finished his tour with a reception at Darwin's Government House, and placed a message in a time capsule to be opened in 30 years.

PA



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