The second day of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Australian tour has been all about community.
The royal couple spent time with local farmers in Dubbo on Tuesday, hearing their stories of hardship, hope and perseverance during what has been an incredibly trying year with the drought.
Meghan and Harry took a hands-on approach as they carried buckets out on a farm, before sitting down with the locals to learn more about their personal experiences.
As the heavens opened later in the afternoon, Prince Harry stood in the pouring rain to deliver a heartfelt message about mental health to farmers.
Harry, 34, recalled the time he spent “Jackarooing on a small 16,000 hectare property near Roma in Queensland” during a gap year in his youth, and described rural Australians warmly.
“You are the salt of the earth, honest, hard working and as tough as they come,” he said, “That resilience, sense of humour and commitment to the land are the qualities that make you unique.
“You are the backbone of this country.”
He went on to address mental health and suicide, a matter close to his heart and one he has been championing alongside his brother Prince William and sister-in-law the Duchess of Cambridge.
“We know that suicide rates in rural and remote areas are greater than in urban populations,” he said, “This may be especially true among young men in remote regions. But outside all of that, here is what I also know.
“You are one huge community and with that comes an unparalleled level of internal support and understanding. All you need to do is to ask for it. Your neighbour, your peer, your fellow farmer is literally right around the corner.
“Chances are, they may well be suffering too and will relish the opportunity to either listen or talk themselves.”
He went on to repeat that rural Australians are “the toughest people out there” and “the ones who can weather the storm or the drought.”
“But you need to know that part of being strong and tough is having the courage to ask for help when you need it. You must not silently suffer.
“You are all in this together and if I may speak personally, we are all in this together because asking for help was one of the best decisions that I ever made.”
The Duke was referring to how he sought counselling to deal with the trauma of his mother Princess Diana’s death. In April last year he said he was once “very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions” after trying to shut out his grief for nearly two decades.
Earlier in the day Harry and Meghan were treated to a very warm welcome from locals when they touched down in the New South Wales city on Wednesday morning.
Pregnant Meghan glowed in a stunning grey blazer designed by her famous friend, tennis player Serena Williams.
Called the ‘Boss Oversized Blazer’, Meghan’s statement jacket, which retails for $203 AUD, was teamed with a pair of black jeans by Australian label, Outland Denim and a crisp white shirt from Maison Kitsune.
After stepping off the plane, Harry and Meghan took some time to meet local fans who had lined up to meet them.
Many were young school children, including Luke Vincent, a five-year-old with Down syndrome who gave both Meghan and Harry a warm hug.
The royal couple then helped unveil a new plane at the Royal Flying Doctor Service hangar, and spoke with health workers and local community members.
Hours ahead of their arrival, fans were out in force in Dubbo in the hope of catching a glimpse of the royal couple.
The streets were decorated, and some locals even prepared one of the most Aussie things ever – a special Royal beer for the occasion.
Named ‘Dubbo Royale’ the beer is a British-style lager that includes a ‘fruity’ US West Coast component, News.com.au reports.
The Hunter Valley brewed beer, served at the Old Bank Hotel and other pubs across town, has been dubbed “marriage in a can”.
“We wanted to take a component from both Harry and Meghan, something very unique from each of them,” publican Ryan Mackintosh told Sunrise.
“For Harry’s side we took lager, and for Meghan’s side we took three hops from the West Coast.”
On Tuesday Harry and Meghan were officially welcomed to Australia at Admiralty House, before heading to Taronga Zoo and then meeting crowds outside the Sydney Opera House.
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