There was no shortage of locals eager to rub shoulders with royalty yesterday when Prince Edward made a flying visit to Dubbo to recognise indigenous students involved in The Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme. Security was tight but pomp and ceremony were forgotten as the casually dressed Earl of Wessex charmed VIPs, star struck locals and surprised tourists who unwittingly found themselves part of a royal event. After briefly greeting well wishers at Dubbo airport, the Earl was whisked to the zoo where he travelled in an electric cart to a staged photo opportunity at the giraffe enclosure. Travelling by his side were Dubbo College Delroy Campus girls Courtney Chatfield and Nakella Brown who were selected to represent students involved in Sistaspeak - a youth mentoring program incorporating the positive personal development activities of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award. The proud but nervous girls were joined by head giraffe keeper Pascale Benoit and helped the Earl feed sliced carrots to the zoo's quietest giraffe, 20-year-old Andrea. Courtney and Nakella and their fellow students Glenda Hines, Billie-Anne Flanders, Stacey Gordon, Frankie Gordon, Jessikka Elemes, Amy Hill and Dulcie Wilson were the focus of the Earl's visit. Described as shining examples of an indigenous education program established to boost self esteem and change lives, the girls were praised by the Earl for being "brave enough to have a go at the Duke of Edinburgh's Award''. "Starting off with bronze the girls will gradually work through the program and may one day get to gold,'' he said. "I did it back in Britain and know all about the challenge and immense fun of fulfilling dreams and aspirations. "It is great to have so many people here today to support the program and these young people in their endeavours.'' The Earl accepted a traditional welcome from Wiradjuri elder Uncle John Hill and watched the Yarradamarra Aboriginal dancers before mingling with assembled invited guests at Zoofari Lodge. Mayor Allan Smith presented the Earl with a bronze sculpture of a black rhino cast by Dubbo artist Brett Garling.