We are back with an overview of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Autumn Tour, as it has been referred to by Kensington Palace.
Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace have had royal aides in Australia for some weeks working on the itinerary, and there will be several opportunities for members of the public to see the royal couple up close.
The palace released some details yesterday, and it’s no easy-breezy schedule. We’re talking about 2-1/2 weeks, including a major time change. A sampling of the time differences:
- Sydney is 9 hours ahead of London, as are Melbourne & Brisbane (noon in London is 9pm in Sydney; see final bullet point with DST update)
- Fiji is 11 hours ahead of London (noon in London is 11pm in Fiji)
- Tonga is 12 hours ahead of London (midnight in London is noon in Tonga)
- when we get closer to the tour we’ll do what we’ve done in the past and post the different time zones and a conversion clock on the site
- further complicating things: the switch to Daylight Saving Time October 9 impacts some Australian states, but not all. (We’ll have updated times after the October 9th changes.) Thank you to Tracey for sharing info on the time changes!
Today we can share the dates and cities, but not specific engagements. More from the news release:
Their Royal Highnesses have been invited to visit the Commonwealth Realms of Australia and New Zealand by the countries’ respective governments. The Duke and Duchess will visit Fiji and Tonga at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The programme across these four Commonwealth countries will focus on youth leadership, environmental and conservation efforts – including the dedication of several new Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy projects – and the recovery and rehabilitation of servicemen and women through the Invictus Games Sydney 2018.
If going by local headlines, people are eager to see the couple.
The streets of Dubbo are abuzz as news circulates the young royals Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are visiting in October.
As punters emerged at dawn to pick up their daily newspapers, Newsextra on Macquarie assistant manager Lee Judd said the air was electric.
“From 6:00am I’ve had mostly men from the older generation come in, and every single one has said ‘Have you heard the news? Meghan Markle is coming to town’,” she said.
Now to our overview of the itinerary:
TUESDAY, OCT 16: SYDNEY AUSTRALIA
- Our guess is that this will be the couple’s base of operations during the first leg of the tour.
WEDNESDAY, OCT 17: DUBBO, AUSTRALIA
- Dubbo is in rural NSW (New South Wales), about an hour’s flight from Sydney. The area has been heavily impacted by a severe drought.
- The Duke and Duchess are expected to visit the Taronga Western Plains Zoo, a non-profit dedicated to wildlife conservation, obviously something of interest to Meghan and Harry. The Zoo has seen royal visitors before: Prince Edward visited in 2006 and HM was there in 1992.
- Dubbo worked hard to land the royal visit. More from this Guardian story, quoting Mayor Ben Shields:
The Dubbo trip was the result of a hard-won pitch from the city council. “They made it clear months ago that the duke will be going to a regional centre, and we jumped on board as quickly as we could – begged, pleaded, did everything we had to do to get him there.”
He’s hoping the visit will help boost morale and the town’s income, as it battles through a crippling and unprecedented drought. “Dubbo is the primary service centre for western NSW … and if the farmers have no cash in their pockets, it means they don’t spend on our local businesses,” he says.
Below, the front page of the Dubbo paper this morning.
THURSDAY, OCT 18: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
- We don’t yet have details on what exactly the couple will do while visiting the Victoria capital city.
FRIDAY, OCT 19 – SUNDAY OCT 21: SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
- The Duke and Duchess will be focused on the Invictus Games. Launched by Prince Harry after he saw the benefits of the Warrior Games in the US, the paralympic-style games will host more than 550 military service athletes who are ill or injured. The inaugural games were in London in 2014. Below, the couple at last year’s Games in Toronto.
- The opening ceremony for the games is Saturday, the 20th. The games run through the 27th.
- Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik is slated to attend the games. Reports that Crown Princess is attending may no longer be accurate per this Royal Central story.
- We will also see David Beckham who is an Invictus Games Ambassador.
MONDAY, OCT 22: FRASER ISLAND
- Meghan and Harry travel to Fraser Island. They are expected to take part in activities related to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, a network of forest conservation programs in all 53 Commonwealth countries. Below, a forested area on the island.
- Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island, as well as a UNESCO world-heritage site.
TUESDAY / WEDNESDAY, OCT 23/24: SUVA & NADI, FIJI
- Consisting of 300+ islands, Fiji is in the South Pacific.
- The Duke and Duchess will first visit Suva, the country’s capital and largest city.
- Their second day in Fiji the couple will be in Nadi, located on Fiji’s main island.
- The Duke and Duchess are by no means the first royal family members to visit. HM and Prince Philip spent time in both Fiji and Tonga during their 1953/54 tour. Emily Nash of Hello! shared this memento of that trip.
THURSDAY, OCT 25: NADI, FIJI AND NUKU’ALOFA, TONGA
- Tonga is an archipelago with 172 islands, once known as the Friendly Islands. Nuku’alofa is the capital, located on the island of Tongatapu. Under the country’s 2010 constitution, Tonga is a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. Below, the Royal Palace, near Nuku’alofa.
- The area is known for whale watching, and Meghan and Harry will be visiting during the best time of year to see the Humpback Whales. Not only can you view the whales, you can also swim with them.
FRIDAY, OCT 26: NUKU’ALOFA, TONGA and SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
- After their time in Nuku’alofa Meghan and Harry return to Sydney.
SATURDAY, OCT 27: SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
- This is the final day of the Invictus Games. If similar to the final day of the games in Toronto last year, Harry and Meghan will watch some of the competition and spend time with athletes, volunteers and supporters.
- Tonight the Duke and Duchess attend the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games.
SUNDAY, OCT 28: WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND
- Wellington is the capital of New Zealand, located on the southernmost tip of the North Island.
- The Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern, had this to say about the tour:
“It’s wonderful news that the Duke and Duchess are coming to New Zealand as part of their first major tour outside the United Kingdom. I know they will receive a very warm Kiwi welcome wherever they go.
“I hope many New Zealanders will have the opportunity to see the Duke and Duchess as they visit some of our beautiful provinces and national parks, and experience our hospitality.”
MONDAY, OCT 29: WELLINGTON, NZ and ABEL TASMAN, NZ
- There is plenty of speculation about things Meghan and Harry *might* do when visiting Abel Tasman National Park, on New Zealand’s South Island. Below, a view of the Abel Tasman Coast Track, a lengthy trail down the coastline accessible via foot or by boat.
It’s an interesting challenge given the security that surrounds them, and I’m sure what they’re doing is not what they’d personally like to do,” chief executive of Wilsons Abel Tasman, Darryl Wilson, said.
But he predicted the focus of the royals’ visit would be environmental.
“Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust and Project Janszoon’s work fit very well within the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy conservation project,” Wilson said, suggesting their managers be “poster boys” for conservation in the region.
Everyone’s asking what, how, where and when?”
- The park also features some stunning beaches.
TUESDAY, OCT 30: AUCKLAND, NZ
- Auckland is located on New Zealand’s North Island, with a population of more than 1.5 million residents.
WEDNESDAY, OCT 31: ROTORUA, NZ
- Rotorua is located in the central portion of New Zealand’s North Island.
- This is not the first royal visit to the city; Prince Andrew was here in 2007, and HM has also been to the area. The New Zealand Herald has more:
Queen Elizabeth II has visited Rotorua at least twice but spent the most time here during her and Prince Philip’s 1953/4 summer tour.
- Many are suggesting Meghan and Harry may visit the Pohutu Geyser, seen below. The Stuff NZ story we’ve been citing notes, “Going to see it would give the pair a “great show” and allow Harry to follow in the historical path of his parents and grandparents – who also visited it.”
- More from the Stuff, NZ piece:
Te Tatau o Te Arawa chairman Te Taru White said Harry would likely make a beeline for Te Puia’s Pohutu geyser.
Going to see it would give the pair a “great show” and allow Harry to follow in the historical path of his parents and grandparents – who also visited it.
- The geyser is located in Te Puia, also home to the New Zealand Māori Arts & Crafts Institute, “Perpetuating, preserving and promoting Māori culture through traditional Māori art” described on the institute’s website. This would certainly qualify as a possible location the Duke and Duchess could visit.
- One news report says the couple will visit Ohinemutu, a living Māori village on the shores of Lake Rotorua.
- Another possible stop is referenced in this New Zealand Herald piece:
Mayor Steve Chadwick said October 31 would be a proud day for Rotorua.
‘”To be showcased on an international stage is an incredible opportunity. People will catch a glimpse of the country’s heartland of Māoridom.”
Appearing on breakfast television yesterday morning, Chadwick alluded to the visit to Rotorua being a request from the royal couple and one of the things they were interested in is how things are cooked in Rotorua.
Both Harry and Meghan have visited New Zealand before – Harry as part of his first official royal tour in 2015 and Meghan on a campervan roadie the year before.
While she was initially hesitant about the idea, writing on her former blog The Tig that she asked herself “Could I campervan? Should I campervan? Am I a campervanning girl?”, the South Island and Waiheke won her over, inspiring her to write a “love letter to all things Kiwi”.
That’s our glance at the tour. As we learn more we’ll get our Tour Info Center tab active on the page, filled with details, event times when available, and much more.
We have a quick retail note to share this evening:
- Click here to read the news release from Kensington Palace