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British Royal Family

Queensland wins Kate Middleton's heart

"Queenslanders hold the heart of Australia," so the locals say, and that heart was beating loudly for William and Kate today.

After a serious morning of pomp, ceremony and private time with bereaved military families at RAAF Amberley, William and Catherine headed to the Convention Centre to meet 200 inspiring Queenslanders. And from drought-stricken farmers, to sporting greats and the state's top politicians, all were charmed by the young couple.
Grazier Barry Hughes said that Prince William was genuinely interested in the plight of the state's farmers.
"He wanted to know about the weather, he was so open and focused on what I was saying." Mr Hughes reminded the Duke that his grandmother's horse Carlton House was racing in Sydney. "Is that today?" the surprised Duke said, smiling as he checked his watch.
The youngest person to sail around the world solo, Jessica Watson, said she felt humbled by the Duchess. "You feel like you know them, and they treat you like you do," she said.
"The Duchess is apparently quite a good sailor, I'm glad even she's able to get out on the water, everyone should."
Jessica Watson talking to Kate.
Outside some had come as early as 2am with the front, second and third rows in position on Brisbane's South Bank by noon.
Very soon the hundreds turned into thousands and thousands turned into more than 10,000. It was an astonishing turnout and as the minutes ticked by the air of anticipation grew utterly electric.
A band of four young lads struck up playing jazz standards and with bunting out and flags waving it felt like the sort of royal street party we see going on in England.
Five-year-old Isabella Page had put on her best princess frock and told me she loved Kate. She was chaperoned by her auntie Sonia who said "I saw Princess Diana here when I was about her age and I've never forgotten it I wanted Isabella to have a similar memory."
Isabella Page in her best princess garb.
Setting her sights a bit higher was 10-month-old Gracie Farrelly whose "marry me George" pink t-shirt said it all. Her mum Kristy had just finished stitching the tee that morning and was hoping Prince George himself, aka her future son in law, might be with his parents.
Gracie Farrelly hopes she might one day marry George, right.
As it happened by the time the couple started their walkabout some 35 minutes later than expected, Gracie was fast asleep. With all her flag waving and crowd surfing to the front she'd peaked too early.
Alas, Gracie fell asleep before the royal couple arrived.
When William and Kate finally appeared through the doors of the Convention Centre it was as if The Beatles had come to town. The couple split and zigzagged across the street trying to meet and shake hands with as many as they could.
Kate was positively mobbed by admirers.
The presents came thick and fast with more native animal toys for George including at least two kangaroos and a possum. It was the longest walkabout we've seen yet for at least 100 metres, taking more than 20 minutes.
In the local newspaper this morning the state was renamed Kate's-land. And as she headed through the crowds, the Duchess showed a new level of confidence, no longer shadowing her husband, but stepping out with zeal and fervour. Both she and the Prince were enjoying themselves and it showed.
When Premier Campbell Newman met William he said he was honoured to have the royals in Queensland, but added he wished they had brought big beautiful bouncing baby George with them.
"He clearly needs a rest and there's no better place to have a rest than Sydney," the Premier joked. "If however, you want excitement in the state of opportunity, a dynamic, wonderful place, the place to be is Queensland and we would welcome him in the future." Following this reception he's likely to have his wish granted.
When I spoke to Air Commodore Tim Innes, Queensland's most senior Australian Defence Officer who had accompanied the couple that morning he summed up the couple's appeal.
"I was genuinely surprised. The really are naturally engaging. And having seen it today I understand. In this day and age with so many bad stories, they're a breath of fresh air."

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