Contains selective news articles I select

Archive for the ‘Royalty on the British Isles’ Category

Johnson denies lying to queen, wins Brexit court case

September 12, 2019

LONDON (AP) — The British government insisted Thursday that its forecast of food and medicine shortages, gridlock at ports and riots in the streets after a no-deal Brexit is an avoidable worst-case scenario, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson denied misleading Queen Elizabeth II about his reasons for suspending Parliament just weeks before the country is due to leave the European Union.

In better news for the embattled British leader, a Belfast court rejected claims that the Conservative government’s Brexit strategy should be ruled illegal because it risked undermining Northern Ireland’s peace process.

Johnson took office in July vowing to get Brexit done on the scheduled Oct. 31 date, even if there is not a divorce deal to smooth the way. But many lawmakers, economists and businesses fear a no-deal Brexit would be economically devastating and are fighting him every step of the way.

This week, Parliament forced the government to publish its official assessment of the impact of leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement. The six-page classified document, dated Aug. 2, said customs checks meant the number of trucks crossing the main freight route between Calais and Dover would drop by between 40% and 60% within a day of a no-deal Brexit, with disruptions lasting up to three months. The supply of certain types of fresh foods and essential medicines would decrease, prices would go up and the poor would be hit hardest, it said.

The paper also described major disruptions for travelers between Britain and the EU and uncertainty for U.K. citizens living in Europe, and it said attempts to maintain an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland would probably fail. It also said a no-deal exit could trigger major protests and even riots.

Johnson insisted the bleak scenario was “not where we intend to end up.” “This is a worst-case scenario which civil servants obviously have to prepare for, but in the last few months, and particularly in the 50 days since I’ve been prime minister, we’ve been massively accelerating our preparations,” he said.

Opposition politicians said the “Operation Yellowhammer” document — the government’s code name for its Brexit preparations — proved that Johnson is reckless to consider leaving the bloc without a deal.

Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve said it was extraordinary that a U.K. government “is content on inflicting on the British public the level of disruption which is set out in the Yellowhammer papers.”

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the scenario was a “planning assumption” and would only come true if the government did nothing to offset it. “We are spending the money on doing lots of things to mitigate those assumptions,” he told the BBC.

The government said it would publish an updated version of the assessment soon that would show how much progress had been made. The government refused to comply with another part of Parliament’s demand — that it hand over email and texts among officials and aides discussing the government’s decision to suspend Parliament in the run-up to the Brexit deadline. Michael Gove, the minister in charge of Brexit planning, said the request was inappropriate and disproportionate.

The order to release the Yellowhammer document was one of a series of blows to the government by opposition lawmakers and rebel Conservatives. They also passed a law that orders the government to seek a three-month delay to Brexit if no agreement has been reached by late October, and rejected Johnson’s call for a snap general election.

After suffering six defeats in the House of Commons in as many days, Johnson suspended Parliament for five weeks until Oct. 14, sparking outrage among legislators and several legal challenges. The U.K. Supreme Court is set to consider next week whether the shutdown should be reversed, after conflicting rulings in lower courts.

Last week, the High Court in London said the decision was inherently political and “not a matter for the courts.” But Scotland’s highest civil court ruled Wednesday that the shutdown was illegal “because it had the purpose of stymieing Parliament.”

Johnson insists he suspended Parliament so that he can launch a fresh domestic agenda at a new session next month. He said he had “absolutely not” misled the queen — whose formal approval was needed to suspend Parliament — about his motives. Critics say Johnson must resign if it turns out he lied to the monarch, who is Britain’s head of state and is bound to act on the advice of her prime ministers.

In Northern Ireland, claimants had argued that a no-deal Brexit would undermine agreements between the British and Irish governments that were struck during the peace process. A no-deal Brexit could lead to the return of a hard border between the U.K.’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. An open border is crucial to the regional economy and underpins the peace process that ended decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.

Judge Bernard McCloskey ruled that the “claim and counterclaim, assertion and counter-assertion, allegation and denial, blow and counter-blow” of the raging Brexit arguments belonged in the world of politics, not law.

“Virtually all of the assembled evidence belongs to the world of politics, both national and supra-national,” he said. If the claimants appeal the ruling, the case could join the two other legal challenges to Johnson’s Brexit plans before the Supreme Court next week.

Johnson said Thursday he was “working very hard” to strike a new deal with the bloc after the agreement made by his predecessor Theresa May was rejected three times by Britain’s Parliament. Johnson’s envoy David Frost has been holding talks in Brussels this week but no breakthrough has been made, and the EU says it is still waiting for firm proposals from the U.K.

“The U.K. hasn’t proposed any alternatives and anything that’s been legally credible and workable,” said European Parliament President David Sassoli. The bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, told reporters that “we are still ready to examine objectively any concrete and legally operational proposals from the U.K.”

Associated Press writer Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed.

Prince Charles opens new London hospital for virus patients

April 03, 2020

LONDON (AP) — Prince Charles remotely opened a vast temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients at London’s main exhibition center Friday, as the number of coronavirus-related deaths reported in the U.K. surpassed China’s official total.

While confirmed virus cases and deaths continued to rise steeply, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he remained in isolation with a fever eight days after testing positive for the new virus. Charles, who on Monday completed a week of self-isolating as he recovered from COVID-19, said via video link that he was “enormously touched” to be asked to open the new Nightingale Hospital, which was built in just nine days at the vast ExCel conference center in east London, with corridors stretching a full kilometer (just over half a mile).

It opens with around 500 beds but when at its expected full capacity of 4,000 beds, it will be the biggest hospital facility in the U.K.. Charles, 71, paid tribute to everyone, including military personnel, involved in its “spectacular and almost unbelievable” construction.

“An example, if ever one was needed, of how the impossible could be made possible and how we can achieve the unthinkable through human will and ingenuity,” he said from his home in Scotland, Birkhall.

The new National Health Service hospital will only care for people with COVID-19, and patients will only be assigned there after their local London hospital reaches its capacity. Charles described himself as one of “the lucky ones” with only mild symptoms but noted “for some it will be a much harder journey.”

He expressed his hope that the hospital “is needed for as short a time and for as few people as possible.” The hospital is named after Florence Nightingale, who is widely considered to be the founder of modern nursing. She was in charge of nursing British and allied soldiers during the Crimean War of the 1850s, her selfless care earning her the reputation of the “Lady with the Lamp.”

Further new hospitals are being planned across the U.K., including in Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester, to alleviate pressure on the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic. “In these troubled times with this invisible killer stalking the whole world, the fact (that) in this country we have the NHS is even more valuable than before,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who also contracted COVID-19 and emerged from his own self-isolation on Thursday.

Hancock said the peak of the epidemic in Britain is likely to be in the “coming weeks” and could be as soon as next weekend. The number of virus-related deaths in Britain has sharply increased in the past two weeks. Government figures provided Friday showed that a total of 3,605 people who tested positive have died in British hospitals, an increase of 684 from a day earlier.

The government’s updated count would make the U.K. the latest country with a higher death toll from the worldwide pandemic than China, which according to a Johns Hopkins University tally officially reported 3,326 deaths from the outbreak that emerged there in December.

Buckingham Palace said Charles’ 93-year-old mother, Queen Elizabeth II, has recorded an address to the nation and the Commonwealth about the coronavirus pandemic to be broadcast on Sunday. Like many other countries, Britain is in effective lockdown, with bars and nonessential shops closed in order to reduce the rate of transmission, the hope being that ithis will eventually reduce the peak in deaths.

In a video message, the prime minister warned people not to break self-isolation rules on what is expected to be a warm, sunny weekend. Johnson acknowledged that “everybody may be getting a bit stir-crazy” but urged Britons not to flout rules against gathering in groups. He said the country “has made a huge effort, a huge sacrifice” and people should continue to follow rules in order to save lives.

Johnson, who appeared flushed and red-eyed in the video, has been working from quarantine in his Downing Street apartment since testing positive on March 26. He continues to hold daily meetings on the virus crisis by video conference.

Johnson said Friday that although he was “feeling better,” he still had a fever and was following guidance to stay in isolation until his temperature returned to normal.

Prince Harry walks through Angola mine field, echoing Diana

September 27, 2019

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A body armor-wearing Prince Harry on Friday followed in the footsteps of his late mother, Princess Diana, whose walk through an active mine field in Angola years ago helped to lead to a global ban on the deadly weapons.

The prince walked through a dusty mine field marked with skull-and-crossbones warning signs, and was visiting the spot where Diana was famously photographed on a similar walk during her own Africa visit in 1997. That field in Huambo is now a busy street. The southern African nation is now years past a grinding civil war and hopes to be land mine-free by 2025, a goal of scores of countries around the world.

“Land mines are an unhealed scar of war,” Harry said in the town of Dirico. “By clearing the land mines we can help this community find peace, and with peace comes opportunity.” He said retracing his mother’s path was “quite emotional.”

Diana’s visit is still very much discussed today in Huambo after people were struck by her warmth and willingness to acknowledge their country’s devastating 27-year conflict, the Angola country director for mine-clearing organization The HALO Trust said.

“The main impact of Diana’s walk in 1997 was the level of global exposure it provided for land mines not only in Angola but the world,” Ralph Legg said. She was a great advocate for a land mine ban, and “her willingness to visit an actual mine field, to place herself right in that context, provided great impetus and gave it a great boost.”

The international ban on anti-personnel mines was signed that year and entered into force two years later. So far 164 countries have signed on. “More than 48 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed and 31 countries have been completely cleared of land mines,” The HALO Trust said, while production of the weapons has almost dried up.

Harry on his visit also remotely detonated a decades-old mine, met with mine-clearing teams and was visiting the orthopedic hospital his mother visited for her meetings with mine victims. “I think that will be a very poignant moment of coming full circle,” Legg said. “Very striking once people compare those images from the two visits to see how far Angola has come.”

The world, however, is hardly free of mines, and the prince said Angola itself still has more than 1,000 mine fields left to clear, 22 years after his mother’s visit. “I wonder if she was still alive whether that would still be the case,” Harry said. “I’m pretty sure she would have seen it through.”

Other countries that remain heavily mined include Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen, and Afghanistan led the world with at least 2,300 casualties in 2017, according to the Landmine Monitor 2018 report.

“Myanmar was the only known instance of government forces actively planting the weapons” in the year-long period between October 2017 and 2018, the report said. “A staggering 60 million people around the world still live in fear and risk of land mines. We cannot turn our backs on them and leave a job half done,” Harry said.

Angola, which has committed a new $60 million for mine clearance, now hopes to turn some of its mine-free areas into sites for wildlife conservation and ecotourism. The prince was unveiling a project meant to protect wildlife corridors near the sprawling Okavango Delta, a rare inland delta in neighboring Botswana that doesn’t flow into a sea or ocean and is home to several endangered species.

Harry called on for international effort to help clear mines from the Okavango watershed in Angola. “Everyone who recognizes the priceless importance of safeguarding Africa’s most intact natural landscape should commit fully to this mission,” he said.

His first official family tour with his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and their baby, Archie, will continue with stops in Malawi and further events in South Africa with a focus on issues including mental health and women’s empowerment.

Prince William meets New Zealand mosque attack responders

April 25, 2019

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Britain’s Prince William on Thursday met with some of the police officers and medics who were the first to respond to last month’s mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Duke of Cambridge arrived in Christchurch in the afternoon after earlier attending an Anzac Day service in Auckland alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. At the service, the prince laid a wreath of red and white flowers on behalf of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

William is on a two-day trip to New Zealand and plans to meet later with survivors of the mosque attacks in which 50 people were killed and 50 others wounded. New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush told reporters after the meeting with first responders that the prince had been very supportive and had wanted to make sure the officers and medics were looking after themselves.

Bush said the prince told staff that “A good friend doesn’t pick up the phone when people are in need. You travel to their place and you put your arms around them.” Anzac Day is a memorial holiday on the anniversary of New Zealand and Australian soldiers, known as Anzacs, landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. More than 10,000 soldiers from the two countries were killed during that World War I campaign in what is now Turkey.

On Friday, William will visit the two mosques where the massacres took place March 15.

Britain’s Prince Philip, 97, recovers after Land Rover crash

January 18, 2019

LONDON (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II’s 97-year-old husband Prince Philip was recovering at the royal Sandringham estate after the Land Rover he was driving rolled over on its side in a collision with another vehicle.

An alarming photo showing Philip’s toppled black Land Rover dominated the front pages Friday of Britain’s tabloids. The Daily Mirror’s headline read: “Philip, 97, cheats death in crash.” Buckingham Palace said Philip received a “precautionary checkup” at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn on Friday and was found to have “no injuries of concern.”

Witness Roy Warne told the BBC he was driving home from work Thursday when the accident involving Philip’s Land Rover and a compact car unfolded in front of him shortly before 3 p.m. “I saw a car, a black Rover, come out from a side road and it rolled and ended up on the other side of the road,” Warne said. “I saw it careering, tumbling across the road and ending up on the other side.”

Warne said he helped free a baby from the second car, a Kia, before helping the prince out of his vehicle, which was lying on its side. Warne found Philip trapped in the car, but persuaded him to move one leg at a time to get out. He then pulled him out, saying he was not sure whether it was through the windshield or the sun roof. The prince was able to immediately stand up and walk around.

“He was obviously shaken, and then he went and asked if everyone else was all right,” Warne said. The driver of the Kia, a 28-year-old woman, suffered cuts to her knee while her passenger, a 45-year-old woman, suffered a broken wrist. Both were taken to the hospital and sent home. The 9-month-old baby in the Kia was not injured.

Police said they conducted breath tests on both drivers after the accident and both tested negatively for alcohol. Philip has largely retired from public life but is well known for his fierce independence and his love of driving cars and horse-drawn carriages. He has seemed to be in generally good health in recent months.

There is no upper age limit for driving in Britain, although drivers 70 and over are required to renew their licenses every three years and notify authorities if they have suffered from ailments like strokes, epilepsy or glaucoma.

Buckingham Palace officials said Friday that Philip has a valid driver’s license and has complied with all Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency requirements. He and Elizabeth, 92, have been on an extended Christmas vacation at Sandringham, one of her favored rural homes, located 110 miles (177 kilometers) north of London.

Prime Minister Theresa May sent Philip a message wishing him well after the accident. Police did not provide further details about the crash. “We are aware of the public interest in this case, however, as with any other investigation it would be inappropriate to speculate on the causes of the collision until an investigation is carried out,” Norfolk Constabulary said.

By coincidence, authorities in the area had planned to consider improving safety on the road, the A149. Norfolk County Council will discuss reducing the speed limit on the road from 60 mph to 50 mph and installing safety cameras.

Britain’s Prince Harry is in Zambia for 2-day visit

November 26, 2018

LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) — Britain’s Prince Harry is in Zambia for a two-day visit during which he will attend a commemoration of Zambian military veterans and meet Zambian officials, social workers and young entrepreneurs.

A girl with flowers and traditional dancers welcomed Harry after he stepped off a plane in the Zambian capital of Lusaka on Monday. The Duke of Sussex later planned to attend a reception celebrating ties between Britain and Zambia.

His schedule on Tuesday includes a visit to a military barracks and an event of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, which supports the social work of young people worldwide. Harry is president of the trust.

The prince will also visit Circus Zambia, which provides educational and job opportunities to young people, and BongoHive, a Zambian technology and innovation center that helps entrepreneurs.

Heir’s big birthday: 70 candles lined up for Prince Charles

November 13, 2018

LONDON (AP) — Prince Charles turns 70 Wednesday and is still heir to the throne — a role he has served since he was a young child. He’s not lacking in things to do and shows few signs of slowing down — he is wealthy, extremely active in matters of great importance to him, and preparing to welcome his fourth grandchild into the world when Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, gives birth next spring.

His destiny, however, is to be king, a position he will automatically assume with the death of his 92-year-old mother, Queen Elizabeth II. When that happens, Charles will be bound by the constitutional requirement that the monarch refrain from trying to influence policy. Until then, Charles is free to lobby for action on climate change, support organic farming, and fight genetically modified crops as he sees fit.

He’s doing all that while increasingly stepping in for the queen and supervising the Prince’s Trust, an ambitious charity he founded 42 years ago that has helped hundreds of thousands of young Britons.

Is the candle-crowded birthday cake a signal that it’s time for the elegantly greying prince to take it easy? Not on your life, says Charles’ wife, Camilla, the duchess of Cornwall. “I don’t think he thinks he’s 70,” she wrote in a birthday tribute in The Telegraph Magazine. “I think it’s just a number to him. There’s no way that he will slow down. You must be joking. I keep saying 70 is getting on a bit. It’s not very old but it is old. You have to slow down a bit.”

The royal family is in the midst of a slow, understated transition. The patriarch, 97-year-old Prince Philip, has formally retired from public life, although he makes occasional appearances in support of the queen.

For her part, the queen still maintains a busy schedule, but she no longer makes long haul flights to far flung parts of the 53-nation Commonwealth, and this year she took the unusual step of lobbying the Commonwealth countries to specify that Charles would be the next leader of the group, a position that is not hereditary.

The support for Charles was unanimous, reflecting not only appreciation for the queen’s work over the decades but a belief that Charles has a strong commitment to the Commonwealth. Charles has also taken a more visible role representing the queen at some important national events, most recently during the Remembrance Day celebrations honoring Britain’s fallen soldiers. He placed the queen’s wreath at the foot of the Cenotaph monument while she watched from a balcony seat.

But his working trips abroad and his speeches at home generate precious little buzz as the press focuses on younger, more photogenic royals and their cute offspring. In a way, Charles is sandwiched between generations, caught between his mother, a symbol of dignity and continuity who has reigned since 1952, and his two immensely popular sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, who have along with their wives come to symbolize the future of the world’s best known monarchy.

William and Harry also remind many of their mother, the late Princess Diana, who died in a Paris car crash in 1997 after a messy divorce from Charles that for a time tarnished his standing with the British public.

It is William and Harry — along with their wives Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan — who appear on the cover of glossy magazines, not the about-to-be-70 Charles. It is the young royals who are seen as glamorous modernizers with the common touch, while Charles is sometimes perceived as dour, preachy and remote.

Camilla says the public doesn’t understand how “incredibly kind” and funny Charles is, and William and Harry — taking part in a rare BBC interview to mark his father’s birthday — praise the way he has used his undefined position as Prince of Wales to advocate so many important causes, such as environmental protection.

But Harry — who has endeared himself to the British public in part with his impish smile and sunny outlook — urged his dad to cut back a bit on the doom and gloom that often accompanies Charles’ pronouncements.

“I would encourage him to remain optimistic because I think it can be very easy to become despondent and negative,” Harry said. “But hopefully with his children and his grandchildren, and a few more grandchildren to come, he can get energy from the family side and then carry on his leadership role.”

He also had this advice: don’t work so hard, and have dinner earlier.

Royals Harry and Meghan name kiwi birds ‘gift’ and ‘sneeze’

October 31, 2018

ROTORUA, New Zealand (AP) — Prince Harry and wife Meghan examined the navel, nostrils and whiskers on New Zealand’s flightless kiwi bird and got to name two tiny chicks on the final day of their 16-day tour of the South Pacific.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited a kiwi hatchery in the town of Rotorua on Wednesday and learned about the breeding program for the threatened birds, which are considered national icons. They gave the 3-day-old kiwi chicks indigenous Maori names: “Koha” meaning “gift” and “Tihei” meaning “sneeze,” from the Maori saying “tihei mauri ora” meaning “the sneeze of life” or the right to speak. The names were gender neutral because their sexes haven’t yet been identified.

The couple also visited a Maori meeting grounds or “marae,” went for a public walkabout and strolled through a redwood forest as they finally enjoyed sunny weather after their stop in New Zealand had earlier been dampened with rain.

At the Te Papaiouru Marae, the couple attended a formal welcoming ceremony and luncheon and were each given striking Maori cloaks, or “korowai.” Harry and Meghan arrived in New Zealand on Sunday after earlier visiting Australia, Fiji and Tonga. During public walkabouts they have been greeted by hundreds of enthusiastic fans.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this week there seems to be little appetite for changing New Zealand from a constitutional monarchy that recognizes Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II to a republic. “I do not pick up from the New Zealand public that this is high on their agenda. That this is an issue that they see of such importance that we need to be debating it in the current environment for New Zealand,” she said. “And I take my steer from them.”

On the trip, Meghan has shown she is prepared to continue speaking out about feminist issues in her new role as a royal. In Wellington, she gave a speech congratulating the country on becoming the first in the world to allow women to vote some 125 years ago.

Royals Harry and Meghan dedicate forest reserves in Tonga

October 26, 2018

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (AP) — The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Friday dedicated two forest reserves in Tonga as they continued their trip of the South Pacific. Prince Harry said Tonga is leading by example and “understands deeply” the impact of environmental changes because the islands of the archipelago are directly affected.

Harry and wife Meghan visited Tupou College to make the dedication. The high school was founded in 1866 and is believed to be the oldest in the region. It’s home to the last remaining forest on Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu. The other reserve is on the island of Eua.

“Planting trees and conserving forests helps us in so many ways,” Harry said. “It is a simple but effective way to restore and repair our environment, clean the air and protect habitat.” The couple dedicated the two reserves to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy environmental initiative, which was started in 2015 and has been signed on to by 42 of the Commonwealth’s 53 countries.

Earlier in the day, the royal couple visited an exhibition celebrating Tongan handicrafts, including traditional mats and tapa cloth. They also met with political leaders. Tonga, home to just 106,000 people, is also known as the friendly islands. It was a British protectorate before gaining independence in 1970 and remains a part of the Commonwealth group of nations.

On Friday afternoon, the couple left Tonga bound for Australia, where they began their 16-day tour of four nations. They are returning to Australia to catch the final days of the Invictus Games, which Harry founded in 2014. The games give sick and injured military personnel and veterans the opportunity to compete in sports such as wheelchair basketball.

After Australia, the couple will finish their trip with a four-day visit to New Zealand.

Perry reported from Wellington, New Zealand.

Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

October 15, 2018

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, are expecting their first child in the spring, Kensington Palace said Monday. The announcement came hours after Harry and the former Meghan Markle arrived in Sydney at the start of a 16-day visit to Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. Hundreds of people gathered to catch a glimpse of the couple after they landed.

“Their royal highnesses have appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public,” the palace said in a statement.

After their arrival in Sydney, the prince and the former American actress held hands and walked out an airport rear entrance and into a car. Meghan, wearing skinny black pants and a black, burgundy trimmed coat, was smiling and clutching folders, while Harry gave a thumbs up to bystanders.

The announcement of the pregnancy confirms weeks of speculation from royal watchers about why Meghan was not joining Harry on his Sydney Harbour Bridge climb set for Friday. Harry, 34, and Meghan, 37 — along with Prince William and his wife, Kate, the duchess of Cambridge — have stepped to the fore in the last year as Queen Elizabeth II, 92, slightly reduces her public schedule.

Monday’s announcement is welcome news in Britain, where Meghan has won many hearts since her engagement to Harry was announced last December. British Prime Minister Theresa May offered her “warmest congratulations” on the news, which provided a bit of relief from concerns about the stalled Brexit negotiations. “Wishing them all the best,” May tweeted.

The baby would be seventh in line for the British throne. The royal couple started dating in July 2016 after they were introduced by friends, and Harry courted Meghan on a trip to Africa shortly afterward. They kept their relationship secret for several months but word eventually leaked to the British press.

They were married in May in a spectacular ceremony on the grounds of Windsor Castle that drew tens of thousands of people to Windsor and was watched by a global TV audience. Harry has become immensely popular in Britain, in part because of his military service and tireless work on behalf of wounded soldiers, and he has spoken often in recent years of his desire to settle down and start a family.

When the couple got engaged, Harry was asked about plans for children. “You know, I think one step at a time, and hopefully we’ll start a family in the near future,” he said. He said in 2015, before he met Meghan, that he would “love to have kids right now.”

Meghan has also talked about wanting to have children. She said in a 2016 interview that becoming a mother was on her “bucket list.” She was still acting in “Suits” at the time. “I can’t wait to start a family, but in due time,” she said.

Meghan, with her American roots and successful acting career, has been seen as a modernizing influence on the sometimes stodgy royal family, and she is credited by many for bringing happiness to Harry, who has long struggled to cope with the early death of his mother, Princess Diana.

Harry has broken new ground by talking openly about his mental health issues related to the death of his mother when he was only 12, and that candidness, which is part of a royal campaign to raise awareness about mental illness and end the stigma surrounding it, has brought the royals increased public backing.

The royal couple’s trip Down Under is their only international tour since they were married, apart from a two-day visit to Ireland. Days after watching Harry’s cousin Princess Eugenie tie the knot in a lavish ceremony in Windsor, the couple touched down in Sydney on an overcast morning after a regular Qantas Airways flight from London with a brief stopover in Singapore.

Sydney’s weather is expected to be drizzly and cool on Tuesday, with showers forecast for most of the week. It won’t be the first time Harry has had to brave the rain in Sydney. Last year, he made a whirlwind visit to cast his eye over the Invictus Games preparations, where he charmed his fans during torrential rain.

The couple’s current tour coincides with the games, which start in Sydney on Saturday. The sporting event, founded by Harry in 2014, gives sick and injured military personnel and veterans the opportunity to compete in sports such as wheelchair basketball.

Harry and Meghan will attend the games’ opening and closing ceremonies. In all, they have 76 engagements scheduled over 16 days in Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. The royal couple was driven from the airport to Admiralty House, the official Sydney residence of Governor General Peter Cosgrove, who represents Australia’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, Harry’s grandmother. The couple had no official functions on Monday following the 17,140-kilometer (10,650-mile) flight that Qantas says takes 22 hours and 20 minutes.

Hundreds of well-wishers gathered with umbrellas outside the airport and Admiralty House in the hope of catching a glimpse of Harry and Meghan. The crowd cheered as the waving couple was driven through the gates of the harbor-side mansion.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s representative in Britain, Ambassador Woody Johnson, tweeted: “Happy news to wake up to on a Monday morning – congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex!!” The royal couple’s visit comes six months after Harry’s father, Prince Charles, made his 16th official visit to Australia, primarily to open the 21st Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast city in Queensland.

Katz reported from London.

Tag Cloud