The royal tour is almost over!
On Thursday, the eighteenth day of their trip Down Under, Prince William and Kate Middleton traveled to Canberra, Australia. Their first stop was at the National Arboretum, where the perfect pair planted an English oak tree. Middleton, 32, wore an emerald green Catherine Walker coatdress and paired the look with her favorite L.K. Bennett nude pumps. After the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took turns shoveling dirt, two young boys poured water over the base using bright red watering cans.
The royals signed the guestbook and met with groups of local children and their parents. The Duke and Duchess left 9-month-old Prince George at home in the care of his nanny, Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo. The couple—who will soon celebrate their third wedding anniversary—played with several kids, and Middleton accepted gifts for George, saying that his cot will be "full of little teddy bears."
The Brits then visited Parliament House and greeted fans on their way to the Great Hall. While there, Prime Minister Tony Abbott hosted a reception in the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's honor.
William, 31, then delivered a speech that roused the Australian audience. "When Catherine and I arrived in Sydney last week, I said how much we had been looking forward to this visit. Drawing on my own experience, I told Catherine that it would be wonderful, and so it has been. Anticipation has become deep admiration. There is so much to admire about Australia," he said. "Catherine and I acknowledge the timeless values of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. They have been the custodians of this ancient and majestic continent for thousands of years. The Traditional Owners' stories, and the magnificent and moving rock art at Uluru, which we saw for ourselves, are a priceless inheritance. They tell us not just about the past but provide a precious vision for the future."
"Catherine and I had the privilege earlier this week of visiting Sydney's Taronga Zoo, which is committed—through conservation—to just such custodianship," he continued. "And I know, too, how important Australian support has been for the global consortium, United for Wildlife, which is fighting the scourge of the illegal trade in wildlife, and poaching, something very close to my heart."
"Australia has a quality of life and a level of excellence that makes it a magnet: an enormously attractive place to live, trade, invest, and indeed just visit. The arts and sciences flourish; Australian sporting success is legendary; agriculture—from the traditional to the technologically most advanced—is hugely successful. This is a country that is in the front rank internationally," he said. "We have both seen all this for ourselves. Australia may be known as 'the Lucky Country,' but often the harder you work, the luckier you get. Australians make their own luck. The distinct Aussie formula that has fashioned such a dynamic society is the source of admiration and envy around the world."
"What Australia has achieved goes much wider than Australia itself. The last 30 years have seen the rise of the Asia-Pacific region. In a short time, it has become an economic powerhouse with huge consequences for the whole world order," he said. "The Asia-Pacific region is now a key actor—sometimes the key actor—in confronting many of the global challenges of the twenty first century. It is enormously important—and reassuring—that Australia is at the heart not just of its own success but of the wider regional story, too. Australia is a champion of justice and economic and political freedoms. Australia plays an invaluable role in building an open and peaceful Asia-Pacific for the benefit of all."
"Over the years, Australians have fought bravely for freedom in numerous conflicts. As those who were involved pass on, succeeding generations must remember and keep vivid the sacrifice they made. Catherine and I look forward to paying tribute to them at tomorrow's ANZAC Day commemoration; and—with my brother [Prince Harry]—to taking part in next year's Gallipoli centenary."
"Reluctantly, Catherine, George and I leave Australia tomorrow. Thank you for the warmth and generosity that has been shown to us during our visit. We go away with wonderful memories, and George goes away with his cuddly wombat, which he has taken to chewing so lovingly. We greatly look forward to coming back. And when we do return, it will be to marvel again at all that Australia is, and will yet become."
The audience applauded before turning their attention to a man playing traditional music on a guitar.
The royal couple then visited the National Portrait Gallery. Their visit to the art museum undoubtedly resonated with Middleton, who is a patron of the gallery's equivalent in London. The royals viewed an exhibition and met with some of the portrait's subjects, all of whom are well-known Australians.
That evening, Governor-General Peter Cosgrove hosted a reception at his residence, located in the suburb of Yarralumla. Middleton modeled a white Lela Rose dress and got an up-do for the occasion.