Britain’s Prince Harry is greeted by Luke Vincent, 5, on his arrival in Dubbo, Australia, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. (Phil Noble/Pool via AP)

Harry and Meghan bring rain to drought-stricken Outback town

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are on day two of their 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were jokingly thanked for bringing England’s notoriously inclement weather to a drought-stricken Outback town on Wednesday in a rain-drenched visit to Dubbo during their Australian royal tour.

The former Meghan Markle brought banana bread that she baked in Sydney on Tuesday as a gift to a farming family outside Dubbo who were struggling to feed their cattle and sheep through two years of below-average rain.

“When she heard she was coming to a family home, she had to bring a plate, so it was lovely,” farmer Elaine Woodley said, referring to a dish to be shared.

The pregnant American former actress and her husband, Prince Harry, got their hands dirty throwing cotton seed onto hay used to feed the cows because of a lack of pasture.

Heavy rain started falling when the royal couple arrived later at a Dubbo park for a community picnic, but thousands of cheering well-wishers remained enthusiastic.

“As your royal highnesses are aware, our region has been hit by a terrible drought,” Mayor Ben Shields told the drenched crowd draped with waterproof ponchos and holding umbrellas, who erupted in laughter.

“So we’re very pleased that you can bring some of that English weather with you today, and hopefully it will bring some relief to the farming families,” Shields added.

While rain in recent weeks has been welcome, much more is needed to repair the economic and environmental ravages of the extended dry spell.

Drought conditions in New South Wales state this year have been the most widespread since 1965.

Meghan held an umbrella over Harry as he gave a speech, acknowledging the hardships the drought brought to the rural community and urging drought victims not to suffer in silence.

The crowd applauded when Harry touched on his own mental health struggles following the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in a car crash in a Paris tunnel in 1997. He was 12 at the time. Harry, now 34, revealed in an interview last year that he did not seek counselling until he was in his late 20s.

“You are all in this together and, if I may speak personally, we are all in this together,” 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.”

The prince ended by thanking Dubbo for its invitation and for sharing its stories, adding, “And the rain was a gift.”

Drought relief charity Drought Angels director Natasha Johnston commended the couple for their empathy.

“To have them recognize that our farmers are hurting, and show up here, it’s an honour,” Johnston said.

“It’s been unbelievably tough. We’ve had families who can’t put food on the table, who can’t afford everyday basics, who can’t afford water to fill their tanks,” she added.

On arrival at Dubbo airport, the couple appeared delighted when 5-year-old Luke Vincent, who has Down Syndrome, hugged them both and ruffled Harry’s hair and beard.

Luke’s school principal Anne van Dartel said she had told the students that they were not to reach out to the royals. She suspected Harry’s beard reminded Luke of his favourite celebrity, Santa Claus.

“I was very concerned once he started rubbing Prince Harry’s face and his hair, but Prince Harry was completely gracious and was so polite and realized what was happening and (Luke’s) infatuation with his beard,” van Dartel told Seven Network television.

Luke told later told Nine Network television that Harry had surpassed Santa in his estimation.

Related: Prince Harry and Meghan start Aussie tour with baby gifts

Related: Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

Harry and Meghan are on a 16-day tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.

The main focus of the tour is the Invictus Games, which start in Sydney on Saturday. The sporting event, founded by Harry in 2014, gives sick and injured military personnel and veterans the opportunity to compete in sports such as wheelchair basketball.

___

McGuirk reported from Canberra, Australia.

Kirsty Wigglesworth And Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

MP Sorenson: New Year, New Beginning?

Economic outlook not so bright in coming months

Castor and District Ag. Society says it had successful 2018

Hosts Castor Fair, the Castor Rodeo, and farmers market

Snowfall adds some delay to morning commute

The QE2 and area road conditions in central Alberta were partly snow covered

Witness refuses to testify against John Savage

Preliminary hearing on Stettler man for second-degree murder halted, plea bargain made

Defending champions Team Scheidegger will fight to keep title

Stettler hosting 2019 Alberta Scotties provincial women’s bonspiel

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

WATCH: Team Alberta in Red Deer this weekend to prepare for Canada Winter Games

About 250 Team Alberta athletes toured venues and tested out facilities Saturday

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Ponoka cowboy Vernon (Bud) Butterfield passes away

The Ponoka Stampede Association announced his passing Friday

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Ponoka RCMP are looking for a missing man

Police say he may be in Drayton Valley and they are worried for his wellbeing

Dog dies saving B.C. family from burning home

Homeowners safe but one pet missing, another confirmed dead following fire

Most Read