While news reports suggest that Bathurst has emerged as a leading contender to host Prince Harry and Meghan Markle when they come to Australia later this year, Dubbo Mayor Ben Shields says the City has strong royal ties and shouldn’t be forgotten.
Bathurst and the Hunter Valley have been earmarked as the possible hosts.
Bathurst MP Paul Toole is behind the push to bring the royal couple to Bathurst after news broke on Tuesday that the NSW Government was hoping to whisk Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex away to a regional pit stop when they visit Sydney for the Invictus Games in October.
With Bathurst being busy with the racing event Bathurst 1000 at Mt Manorama earlier that month, it makes Dubbo a better option for a royal visit, Cr Shields.
Cr Shields said with Harry and Meghan being both strong conservationists, Dubbo’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo would make a perfect place for them to visit while in Australia.
“His Uncle (Prince Edward) visited the Western Plains Zoo about 10 years ago and his Grandmother (Queen Elizabeth) in 1992,” he said.
“So he’s got to continue the royal tradition. It’s as important as getting married in Westminster Abbey. It’s just got to happen,” he jokingly said.
On a serious note, Cr Shields said Taronga Western Plains Zoo was internationally renowned for its world-class conservation efforts.
“This would clearly be the spot for Harry and Meghan to go to,” he said.
“Dubbo suits well and truly.”
Full security planning is under way for their anticipated visit for the Invictus Games with Sydney currently awaiting official confirmation from Kensington Palace of the pair’s attendance.
Mr Toole, the Minister for Racing, assisted the Minister for Veterans Affairs and Minister for Clubs as co-hosts for Prince Harry’s last visit to Australia to promote the Games last June.
Through that connection, Mr Toole recommended the royal couple visit regional NSW, with Bathurst and the Hunter Valley subsequently put up for consideration.
Mr Toole said it was now up to the couple and Kensington Palace to decide the schedule.
“No final decision has been made, it’s gone back to England, but it’s not a pipe dream – there’s a real shot at them considering it,” he said.
- With Jacinta Carroll