England’s Duke of Sussex got a particularly warm welcome from one schoolboy as the royal tour made its way to the outback city of Dubbo.
A group of 150 children from nine schools in the area were part of the welcome party as the Royal Australian Air Force jet landed under cloudy skies on Wednesday morning.
Harry, and his pregnant wife Meghan, were met by local politicians and dignitaries, but it was five-year-old Luke Vincent who stole the show.
The Buninyong Public School pupil was one of the last to be greeted by the royal party and made a beeline for Harry, who crouched to say hello.
The youngster wrapped his arms around the duke’s neck and then reached to stroke his beard after the embrace was over. Luke was also introduced to the duchess and handed her a bouquet of flowers.
School principal Anne Van Darrel said the youngster was mesmerised with Harry’s facial hair.
She said: “He got a hug from Meghan and then Harry bent down to speak to him and Luke didn’t give him any choice!
“Luke’s favourite person in the world is Santa Claus, who has a beard. So he rubbed Harry’s beard.”
The British duke and duchess spent around 15 minutes shaking hands, hugging youngsters and accepting posies of flowers. Harry praised one pupil – James Fogg, 11 – on his choice of future career as a helicopter pilot saying “Good choice, good man.”
Five-year-old Lyra Rose, of Dubbo South Public School, said: “It’s the first time I have met a princess and I will remember it forever.”
While Millie Sutcliffe, 10, from Dubbo South Public School, hugged both royals. “My wish came true. I said congratulations on the baby and they thanked me. I said ‘I love you guys’ and I got a hug.
“They said ‘thank you for coming to meet us, you guys are awesome’.”
Lachlan Eddy and Tyson Salt, both 12, from Dubbo West Public School, had Meghan in stitches as they performed some energetic dance moves.
“She said it was very funny,” said Lachlan.