The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s visit to a rural property at Dubbo is a rare “opportunity” and will raise the profile of the ravages of the persistent dry time, the state’s drought coordinator says.
Prince Harry and new wife Meghan will see with their own eyes “the hardships local farmers are facing”, Kensington Palace said in a statement that revealed the itinerary for this month’s tour of Australia.
The royal audience amid dusty paddocks is on the October 17 agenda along with stops at the city’s Royal Flying Doctor Service base, a community picnic in Victoria Park and a school visit.
State drought coordinator Pip Job anticipated the hard-pressed rural community would see the visit as a show of support.
“So I think it will go to further enhance the profile of what the breadth of this drought is and the challenges that farmers are experiencing,” Ms Job said.
“I think farmers will also appreciate the sympathy and the empathy the royal couple will have for what farmers are dealing with as well.”
In August the Queen said in a message that she and Prince Philip were “deeply saddened to hear of one of the worst Australian droughts in living memory”.
Ms Job, who was appointed to the newly-created position in May, noted this year’s drought had received “extremely strong exposure” in mainstream media compared to previous times, and had made it into international press reports.
For that reason, the farm visit did not come as a complete surprise to her.
“I think the royal couple are a very savvy couple that are aware of issues that exist and that are impacting community and the like, and the scale of what the drought is in NSW and Australia,” she said.
The 2014 National Rural Woman of the Year and Geurie resident recognised the significance of the inclusion of the farm visit.
“It’s quite an honour, you don’t get this opportunity every day,” Ms Job said.
Community members will have their chance to catch a glimpse of the royal couple at the picnic in Victoria Park, an event in keeping with the tour’s approach.
"The Duke and Duchess are very much looking forward to experiencing the unique customs and cultures of these four Commonwealth countries and have asked that this tour allows them to meet as many Australians, Fijians, Tongans and New Zealanders as possible," their private secretary Sam Cohen said.
Dubbo MP Troy Grant, who has previously met Prince Harry, looked forward to the couple’s visit.
“It’s terrific that we will get to show off the city and region to the rest of the country, and indeed the world,” he said.
“I’m confident that the people of Dubbo will demonstrate our renowned country hospitality, and even more confident the royal couple will have a wonderful time in our city.”