Melanesia on the Map- Thanks Australia.

PNG pulls out royal ute for Charles and Camilla

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall

Prince Charles and Camilla arrive to view a military parade at the Sir John Guise stadium in Port Moresby. Picture: Stephen Cooper Source: News Limited

THE sight of Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, hitching a ride in the back of a ute was a delightfully egalitarian touch, even if their plush armchairs and fancy attire were not quite in keeping with the informal atmosphere of Port Moresby.

But the rapturous reception offered to the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall yesterday in Papua New Guinea left no doubt as to the locals’ affection for the royal couple, who can expect more of the same throughout their week-long tour of Australia, which begins today with their arrival in Longreach in outback Queensland.

In recent years, visits by members of the British royal family to the region have been overwhelmingly successful, with much of the renewed interest attributed to the popularity of younger members of the House of Windsor.

This time round, it is the older generation’s turn to shine.

Prince Charles drew a huge roar yesterday when he delivered his greeting in Tok Pisin, the local dialect, and fondly recalled his first visit to the country several decades ago.

The first in line to the British throne originally visited the Pacific nation when living as a student in Australia in the 1960s, and said he had “never forgotten the profound impact of that visit”.

“The importance of Papua New Guinean culture has remained with me ever since,” he said, adding he had been humbled to learn that “the drums have been beating for several days in anticipation of my arrival”.

After arriving in Port Moresby on Saturday, Prince Charles was entered as a Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu by Governor-General Micheal Ogio. The order may have only 50 living members at any time and includes former US President Bill Clinton.

At yesterday’s ceremony, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill affirmed his belief that the monarchy was “as relevant and vital today as it has ever been” in Papua New Guinea. “Her Majesty contributes to our stability and harmony in many, many ways,” said Mr O’Neill.

The trip is Camilla’s first to PNG and she was presented with an orchid named Dendrobium Camilla in her honour.

She wore a dress embellished with a pattern based on local pottery designs and protected herself from the 32C sun with a matching white parasol.

After the ceremonies in Port Moresby, the couple visited the coastal village of Boera, where they met elders and watched traditional dancing ceremonies.

The royal couple’s visit to Port Moresby is the first leg in a two-week trip to the region to mark 60 years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. This morning in Longreach the couple will be welcomed by the Governor-General Quentin Bryce and Queensland Premier Campbell Newman. One of the main attractions in their two-hour visit will be the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, opened by the Queen 24 years ago.

They will also visit Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart and Sydney, and will meet with Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott in Canberra before heading to New Zealand.



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