British Royal Family

Prince Charles heads to Cairns for a packed day with tears, tea and bugles

The Prince of Wales was welcomed with tears, tea, bugles and First Nation ceremony during a packed day that started at church in Cairns. The Weekly’s Royal Correspondent Juliet Rieden reports.

By Juliet Rieden

After a flying visit to Vanuatu on Saturday, Prince Charles spent Sunday morning at St John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Cairns.

The heir to the throne was greeted by the Bishop of North Queensland, Bill Ray, as well as the Reverend Rod Gooden with local parishioners, including those who provide community services through Anglicare, all in attendance.

As the Prince left the church after the service Elizabeth Kulla Kulla yelled out to His Royal Highness from behind the barricade. "Excuse me, Prince Charles, can I shake your hand?" she said.

The Prince immediately walked over to Ms Kulla Kulla and shook her hand, as she told him she was named after his mum.

It was an emotional meeting for the young woman who afterwards collapsed in tears into the arms of her sister. "Oh my god," she said over and over again, completely overcome.

"Excuse me, Prince Charles, can I shake your hand?"
"Excuse me, Prince Charles, can I shake your hand?"

The Prince joined the congregation for a cup of tea, before he departed for a tour of HMAS Cairns, an active naval base that provides operational, administrative and logistics support (including maintenance and training) to home ported ships, support craft, resident units and visiting Fleet Units. Approximately 925 Defence personnel are employed at HMAS Cairns, which is also an important staging base in the event of cyclones or other natural disasters along the Queensland coast and in the Coral Sea region. HMAS Cairns is currently the home port of two Hydrographic Ships, one Armidale Class Patrol Boat, two Cape Class Patrol boats and four Survey Motor Launches.

Prince Charles has been Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps since 11 June 1977 and the royal ensign was hoisted up the flagpole as the future King's motorcade pulled into the navy base, drums and bugles sounding as HRH stepped onto HMAS Leeuwin.

"The Prince joined the congregation for a cup of tea."
"The Prince joined the congregation for a cup of tea."

The Duke of Gloucester's Cup is the award for the Royal Australian Navy unit displaying the highest level of overall proficiency for the year and today hydrographic Ship Blue Crew received this significant award for its performance in 2017, the first hydrographic unit to do so in the Cup's 71-year history.

The Blue Crew members had family on-board as the Prince handed over the Gloucester Cup and delighted at meeting the crew and their families, chatting with them at length. It was the first time the Cup has been awarded to a vessel in Cairns and the first time it has been personally handed over by the Prince of Wales.

Prince Charles revealed the name of the B350 Super King Air, Outback Angel, at a special ceremony at its Cairns base.
Prince Charles revealed the name of the B350 Super King Air, Outback Angel, at a special ceremony at its Cairns base.

Charles also paid tribute to the Anzacs who had perished in the war, and the military families who supported the men and women of the navy.

"Your achievements are built on the foundations laid by the selfless dedication of all those servicemen and women who have gone before you," he said. "Furthermore, I suspect that these achievements probably owe a considerable amount to the support, encouragement and above all the understanding of your families."

Next stop was The Royal Flying Doctor Service currently celebrating its 90th year of service.

Using the latest in aviation, medical and communications technology, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) provides the finest care to anyone who lives, works or travels in rural and remote Queensland. With its Queensland head office located at the Brisbane Airport, the RFDS operates 18 aircraft from nine operational bases located in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Charleville, Mount Isa, Longreach and Roma.

The Queensland operation delivers more than 95,000 occasions of care in more than 85 locations to people across the state each year. While across Australia, the RFDS delivers more than 330,000 episodes of care per annum – that's one person every two minutes.

Charles visited the Royal Flying Doctor Service, celebrating its 90th year of service.
Charles visited the Royal Flying Doctor Service, celebrating its 90th year of service.

Today the newest aircraft received a royal unveiling as Prince Charles revealed the name of the B350 Super King Air, Outback Angel, at a special ceremony at its Cairns base.

But it was his video chat with one of the families who benefits from the medical service that stole the show. Gilberton Station owner Lyn French told Charles her daughter had been flown to Townsville earlier that morning after she was thrown from her horse. After offering his best wishes, the heir to the throne went on to talk about his riding background.

"Having come off horses so many times myself the great thing is to get on again straight away," he said.

Ms French's young grandson Robert also provided the royal with some entertainment. Told he was the eighth generation to grow up on the property, Charles said he hoped he was still interested in farming.

"After the game the Prince joined the players and met the incredible Lauren Jackson, one of the finest women's basketballer of all time."
"After the game the Prince joined the players and met the incredible Lauren Jackson, one of the finest women's basketballer of all time."

"At least you haven't been sat on by a cow," he said.

"No," Robert replied, before he followed up with: "I hurt my leg the other day".

Prince Charles said the RFDS is "a remarkable operation and I only wish I'd had time to come out and visit you," he told Ms French.

In the afternoon the Prince visited the Daintree Rainforest for a roundtable talk on sustainable forestry. A Welcome to Country smoking ceremony was performed by Mr Roy Gibson, a Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal Elder who then took the royal on a guided tour of the Ngadiku Dreamtime walk to learn more about the relationship that the Kuku Yalanji people have had with this unique tropical environment for over 50,000 years.

The Prince's final stop in the sunshine state was to watch the women's basketball at the Commonwealth Games. After the game the Prince joined the players and met the incredible Lauren Jackson, one of the finest women's basketballer of all time.

Next the Prince heads to the Northern Territory for his last two days of his royal tour.

Follow Juliet's LIVE coverage of Prince Charles and Camilla's royal Commonwealth Games tour, follow her on Twitter @JulietRieden.

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