Prince William has started his visit to Sydney praising Australia’s leadership and resilience in the face of more natural disasters.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and son Prince George flew into Sydney from New Zealand on Wednesday afternoon, with William and Kate heading straight to the Opera House for a reception.
“There cannot be a more impressive place than the iconic Sydney Opera House to begin our first visit together to Australia,” the prince told the 400 guests.
He said the Queen’s affection for Australia and its “flowering confidence” had been infectious.
“For Catherine, Harry and me, born in the early 80s, we’ve never known anything else – Australia and Australians have always been for us a beacon of confidence, creativity in the arts and sporting ability.”
It’s Kate’s first visit to Australia, but William has been three times before – firstly as a baby when he was the same age as George, in 2010 and again in 2011 following Cyclone Yasi and floods in Queensland and bushfires in Victoria.
“I am sorry to return to find that, yet again, fellow Australians in north Queensland are coping with the aftermath of another destructive cyclone,” he said.
He said Australia’s “great generosity” in response to the floods and earthquakes in the Solomon Islands was “a testament to the strength of your partnerships with your neighbours, and the important role that Australia plays both regionally and globally”.
He also said Australia’s contribution to the ongoing search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 “has earned respect in every quarter of the globe”.