Lightning, thunder and plenty of rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of students at Dubbo College’s Senior campus as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex paid a visit.
Following an official greeting and Welcome To Country by year 12 student Tiarnie McBride, Prince Harry and Meghan briefly parted ways to meet young men and women from the Clontarf Foundation and Girls Academy.
Both organisations aim to improve the education, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women, using sport as a vehicle.
But plans for rugby league and netball demonstrations went out the window as the heavens opened, with the students instead getting up close and personal with the incredibly open (and comparatively dry) royal couple.
Some Girls Academy students had the opportunity to shake hands with the duchess, describing the moment as “surreal” and “breathtaking”.
Listen to what Girls Academy students Eliza Bryan, Amba Longmore, Chelsea Wall, Georgia Benton-Bryant, Ruby Appleby and Natasha Janetszki had to say after meeting the Duchess of Sussex on Wednesday.
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“It was just like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Amba Longmore said.
“We thought we were just going to be throwing the ball around and then all of a sudden we were shaking her hand!
“It was really breathtaking.”
“She shook my hand and she seemed really nice and I had a conversation with her,” Ruby Appleby said.
“I just said ‘do you like Dubbo?’, and she said ‘yeah, it’s really nice’. And then she said ‘aren’t you freezing?’ and I said ‘yeah, it’s a bit cold’.”
“Then, yeah everyone started to come over.”
“It was just a bit surreal,” Tash Janetzki said.
“Nice and warm hands compared to mine!”
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Clontarf footballer Kyjuan Crawford was soaked from training in the rain, but had his own special encounter with the duke.
He gave Prince Harry a ball adorned with the Clontarf logo and motto: ‘From little things, big things grow’.
“It was just in the moment,” he told the Daily Liberal.
“I reckon it was a pretty good opportunity to see them – once-in-a-lifetime, y’know?”
It was Their Royal Highnesses’ last official engagement in central-western NSW before they visit Melbourne on Thursday.
The trip to Dubbo was the second day of their tour to Australia which coincides with the Invictus Games in Sydney, which begins on Saturday and runs for a week.