Camilla’s short Oz trip not snub, say officials

The Duchess of Cornwall will travel all the way to Australia for two full days of a Royal tour before leaving Prince Charles to carry out the rest of the week-long visit alone.

Clarence House confirmed Camilla will be in Brisbane and the Gold Coast from the afternoon of 4 April to attend the opening of the Commonwealth Games and a Women of the World event.

But she has decided not to join her husband as he goes to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Gove and Darwin, along with the Pacific island of Vanuatu.

Instead she will fly back to the UK on 6 April, leaving Prince Charles to return on the 10th.

A spokeswoman for the Duchess said: “The Duchess has always wanted to go to the Commonwealth Games but she was taking a little longer to decide what the rest of the programme was going to be and what the rest of her programme this year was going to be.

“We have got CHOGM (the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London), the Prince of Wales’ birthday, their Spring tour…so she is going to return after the Commonwealth Games as that would be the natural point to return home.”

Prince Charles

Image: Prince Charles will visit parts of Australia’s east coast as well as the Pacific island of Vanuatu

Asked whether this could be seen as a snub to Australia, the spokeswoman said: “No. It’s quite a gruelling tour, with some fantastic places for the Prince to visit.

“Her last tour there was in 2013. She is going to the Games, which she regards as a very important part of it.”

When asked further if only going for two days looked odd, she added: “Better than not. She decided a few weeks ago to firm up her plans. We were always looking at the Duchess coming.”

It was also confirmed there were no health reasons, with the official saying she was “as fit as a flea. The Duchess does not like flying but I think she sometimes has to embrace that fear and get on with it”.

Palace officials emphasised the importance of this tour for celebrating ties with the Commonwealth especially in Australia where the Queen is head of state.

They also confirmed that when the couple arrive at Old Government House in Brisbane, Prince Charles will receive a full ceremonial arrival, usually only laid on for visiting heads of state, because he will be representing his mother the Queen.

Steve Irwin

Image: The Duke will meet the family of wildlife expert Steve Irwin who died in 2006

The visit comes just weeks before heads of government from the 53 Commonwealth members will attend CHOGM from 16 April.

The Queen is head of the Commonwealth but Prince Charles will not automatically inherit the title when he becomes king.

As part of the tour, the Prince will meet the family of Australian wildlife expert Steve Irwin to highlight the plight of the world’s coral reefs.

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Irwin, who was nicknamed the Crocodile Hunter, died in 2006 after being attacked by a stingray while filming footage for a documentary.

The Prince of Wales will also visit the Pacific island of Vanuatu – where some islanders worship his father the Duke of Edinburgh as a god.

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