In keeping with a long tradition of royal tours to Australia, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Royal Easter Show on the morning of Good Friday, before they headed to Manly beach to watch nippers and lifesavers in action.
Catherine’s outfit choice on the day caused a stir when she arrived at Olympic Park – her cream lace Zimmerman dress caused the Australian designer’s site to crash within moments of her arrival at the Show.
She accessorised with another pair of wedges – beige ones – which she kept strapped on when she stepped on to the sand at Manly, even when she attempted a beach run.
The couple made the first royal visit to the Easter Show’s Olympic Park site and were guided around by show president Glenn Dudley and his wife, Jennifer.
As the Australian Women’s Weekly test kitchen attempted to unpick the mysteries of arborio rice to an audience far more interested in the commotion behind them, the royals made their way into the Fresh Food Dome and to the ever-popular district exhibits.
The winning display, from the northern region, might have been proud of its soft Alpaca wool, but Catherine commented on the fleece for other reasons.
“The princess said [the prince] should put some on his head,” said Lyn Cregan, 67, from Glen Innes. “She pointed at him and said ‘You need it more than me.’ He laughed.”
When Ms Cregan revealed she used hair lacquer on the pumpkins to give them extra shine, the prince said he would try the trick next Halloween.
And while Prince George may be third in line to the throne, the nine-month old baby has the same taste as many an infant.
While admiring piles of root vegetables in the South-East Queensland display, Catherine told preserve maker Diana Lisle that Prince George is particularly fond of sweet potatoes.
Throngs lined the route through the hall as the couple moved through, viewing exhibits from across NSW. The displays are the largest of their kind in the world, with over 10,000 fresh pieces of produce on display.
A model skycrane whirred next to the Western District display, a nod to bushfire devastation in the region.
The couple tasted wild berry and macadamia nougat and chocolates and scores of presents were pressed into their minders’ arms, including half a dozen Easter eggs, baby clothes, fudge and tea. A trolley was brought to cope with the flow as the crowds passed books, Possum Magic and Peppa Pig toys and bouquet after bouquet to the royal visitors. More than 100,000 visitors were expected at the Royal Easter Show on Friday, while police and AFP presence was tight.
Their royal highnesses unveiled a plaque in the new Southee and Badgery Pavilion, home to the Show’s arts and crafts, fashion and style and flower and garden displays.
Introduced and thanked by NSW minister George Souris, the couple officially opened the 10,000 square metre pavilion, completed just last week.
“I thank you for your presence at the southern hemisphere’s greatest and largest event, attracting some 900,000 visitors,” said the state minister.
Catherine, a keen photographer, paid special attention to the pavilion’s photography display, stopping to view the winning photo, a black-and-white image of Florence taken by Chris Carter.
She told Alison Renwick, former chair of the arts and crafts pavilion, that she enjoys taking photos and painting and drawing. “She said she doesn’t get much time for it any more,” said Ms Renwick.
“She said she was brought up looking at crafts by her family, her grandmother in particular.”
But it was Cox Pavilion that seemed to hold special interest for William. Home to the Show’s sheep-shearing displays, the couple met Fred the six-year-old ram, who had been taught to bow for the occasion.
Fred’s owner, Jim Murray, from Wellington, said the couple were “absolutely lovely” and very interested in the wool industry.
“They fed Fred a piece of apple and were very impressed with his size and stature and how soft his muzzle was.” Mr Murray met Prince Charles in Tasmania last year. Wool from Fred’s merino fleece went into a suit that was presented to the prince on the occasion of his wedding.
The prince, who in March completed a 10-week course in agricultural management at the University of Cambridge, spoke to sheep shearers as they tackled two of 250 sheep that are sheared over the 14-day fair.
At the Wool for School exhibit, Catherine met last year’s winner, Sophie Aylward, from Kinross Wollaroi School in Orange, whose winning design was a blue woollen dress for the Duchess.
The couple were due to sign the Show’s visitors book upon leaving, but made time to receive posies from a trio of girls and finally and bunch of red and yellow roses from Jessica Badman, 30, and her one-year-old daughter Alivia, on their way out.
Ms Badman, from the Blue Mountains, said the duchess asked her whether Alivia was walking yet and said her outfit was beautiful.
“I can’t believe that just happened,” said an overwhelmed Ms Bradman. “It’s just like talking to a girlfriend, she’s absolutely lovely.”