Royals

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip all smiles on day one

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip all smiles on day one of the royal tour.

Queen Elizabeth at Floriade.

Queen Elizabeth beamed throughout her visit to Floriade today, and the Duke of Edinburgh seemed heartily amused with the first official engagement of the couple’s 16th Australian tour.

The 85-year-old monarch and her 90-year-old husband took a barge from Government House to the annual Canberra flower show.

In pictures: Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Australia

After a few tense moments while a blushing naval officer struggled to moor the boat, the queen emerged smiling broadly and adeptly deploying her famous ‘royal wave’.

The monarch looked lovely in a Lavender-coloured outfit with matching hat and her ever-present black handbag.

Prince Philip was similarly dashing in a suit and jaunty hat, and took time to smile and wave at crowds while Elizabeth accepted flowers and gifts from local children.

The royal couple then got into a Range Rover for the short drive into the centre of the gardens, before getting out to stroll through the displays of flowers.

The queen took great interest in the flora, asking a multitude of botanical questions of her guides, including Floriade’s head gardener.

Philip, on the other hand, seemed to find the whole affair rather amusing, cracking jokes almost continuously.

“The queen was asking lots of questions, smiling and seemed very interested,” Floriade volunteer Ankie Dunn said.

“She obviously loves flowers but the Duke… he has a very dry sense of humour. He certainly made a lot of comments. We couldn’t hear what he was saying, but he was chuckling away.”

In pictures: Princess Diana in Australia

Nicknamed the ‘Duke of Hazard’ by British media outlets, Philip is infamous for his many gaffes.

In his 60 years as royal consort, he has said hundreds of culturally insensitive things, including asking a driving instructor in Scotland how he kept the locals sober long enough to pass their tests, quizzing a group of Australian aborigines if they were “still throwing spears” and enquiring how a British student trekking in Papua New Guinea had managed to avoid being eaten by the “natives”. If he said any similar comments today, the volunteers who overheard were keeping it to themselves.

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