Inside royal couple’s short stay in paradise
IT was a stay fit for a king - or a prince, at least. Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan of Sussex lapped up spectacular water views, exquisite Australian cuisine and had access to a private balcony spa bath during their one-night-only stay on Fraser Island.
As the royal couple yesterday farewelled Queensland to head on to Fiji for the next leg of their whirlwind tour, details of their brief stay on Queensland's latest international tourism star emerged.
It is believed they stayed in a private house overlooking the Sandy Straits back towards the mainland, featuring a sweeping balcony complete with a hot tub.
They sampled top-shelf cuisine, including Queensland barramundi, prepared in paperbark in a nod to the traditional Aboriginal method of cooking, as well as kangaroo loin and dishes of beef and chicken.
Kingfisher Bay Resort management would not comment on the couple's accommodations, but general manager David Hay said staff were buzzing from the visit.
"Having Meghan and Harry here was just fantastic for the whole team," he said.
"They're probably the hottest couple in the world right now and with Charles having stayed here in 1994, clearly it's a resort fit for a prince.
"To get that amount of international media exposure is absolutely fabulous and we think that for years to come we can expect an increase in visitor numbers, from international markets in particular."
Their island sojourn was over by 9am on Tuesday when a white SUV whisked them from their villa to a whale-watching charter boat waiting at the end of the Kingfisher Bay jetty.
The couple waved through tinted windows to a small gathering of fans lining the jetty, but unlike the previous afternoon, there was no meet-and-greet with the public.
Ever the gentleman, Prince Harry held Meghan's hand as he led her from the jetty down a ramp on to the boat.
With a final wave to the crowd on the jetty, they set course for Hervey Bay, leaving Fraser Island - for the time being at least.
Urangan State School captain Gracie Eadie, who presented the couple with a Tambo Teddy during Monday's jetty walk, said that the couple were in awe of Fraser's beauty and had vowed to return.
Little eight-year-old Ebony presented the Prince with a baby humpback whale, just a day after the Duchess received a posey of flowers from her, which she was still carrying on her arrival on Fraser.
London tourist Nichelle Coleman joined the crowd along the marina walkway with daughters Ella, 11, and Livvy, 5.
"We had more chance of seeing them here than at home," Ms Coleman said.
Their one-night stay is expected to generate upwards of $6 million in publicity for the region's tourism industry.
The couple then left for Fiji, and last night received a rapturous welcome as the red carpet was rolled out for their landmark Pacific Islands visit. Up to 20,000 people packed central Suva's Albert Park, and thousands more lined the capital's streets.
In a personal nod to the Duke's grandparents, the couple were guests of honour of a special red carpet welcome ceremony, which a Kensington Palace spokesman said "embodied Fijian cultural identity and heritage" and mirrored a similar 1953 visit attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
As rain swept over the park in a "blessing", the newlyweds were treated to several traditional dances, offered a roast pig and whale's tooth before drinking kava. Greeting the crowd with a traditional hello and goodbye, the Duke said: "The Duchess and I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible during the next two days and celebrating the links and close friendship between Fiji and the UK."
A smiling Duchess wore a Zimmerman dress and Stephen Jones hat, gift earrings from the Queen and a bracelet, a gift from her father-in-law, the Prince of Wales.
The couple last night attended a black tie state dinner at the Grand Pacific Hotel, where the Duchess dazzled in diamonds and a full-length cape blue dress by designer SAFiYAA. Guests, including politicians, diplomats, local business leaders and the cream of Fijian society, gathered for a champagne reception ahead of the dinner.
Their itinerary remains under review after a pregnant Meghan, 37, was forced to cut events as she battled jet lag and exhaustion. They are set to visit Tonga and New Zealand before returning for the end of the Invictus Games in Sydney this Saturday.