A gift from the skies fell on Dubbo as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were warmly and enthusiastically embraced by thousands of wellwishers.
Prince Harry and new wife Meghan defied rain to reach out to the city’s unsung heroes and the broader public at the Picnic in the Park on Wednesday.
A dynamic duo, they greeted crowd members who had waited hours for a rare royal encounter.
Wellwishers presented the duchess with flowers, two days after it was announced she and her husband were expecting their first child next year.
But it’s about being the best version of yourself for you and those around you.Prince Harry
The skies opened on Victoria Park as the royal couple arrived after visiting a drought-hit farm in the district.
Prince Harry described the rain as “a gift” during a speech that encouraged community members to hope and support each other in tough times.
The duke, standing under an umbrella held by the duchess, said farmers were vital to Australia and described country people as “the backbone” of the nation.
"And despite recent welcome rain, it will take a lot more and a long time to recover,” he said.
“It must be hard not to lose hope when you endure so many dry months, end on end, knowing you are powerless to do anything about it.”
At their visit to the Woodley family farm earlier that day, the couple had learned about the knock-on impact of the drought on families and communities, the prince said.
An Afghanistan veteran and Commonwealth youth ambassador, he offered heartfelt encouragement to people not to “silently suffer”.
“You are all in this together, and if I may speak personally, we are all in this together,” Prince Harry said.
“Because asking for help was one of the best decisions that I ever made.
“You will be continually amazed how life changes for the better.”
Cheering and applause greeted him as he shared his experience.
“You will continually be amazed how your life changes for the better once you put your hand up,” Prince Harry said.
“It's not easy and there are no quick fixes.
“But it’s about being the best version of yourself for you and those around you.”
The Royal Flying Doctor Service, which they had visited earlier that day, headspace and other groups were working hard to help people who were struggling, he said.
“Your culture of mateship and reputation for looking out for each other ensures that when people are ready to ask for help, they will be heard,” Prince Harry said.
“Hardship also brings out the best in people and we have been impressed and inspired by the stories of farming communities and the wider Australian community rallying to support each other in this challenging time.
Applause broke out before Prince Harry closed by saying: “And the rain was a gift.”
The couple met invited guests, selected for their contribution to charities and community causes.
They also gave their time to greet the general public, people of all ages, some of whom had travelled long distances to the Picnic in the Park.
The event began with a traditional Wiradjuri smoking ceremony from local elders.
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