Australia congratulates royal couple on news of first child

Britain's Prince Harry and wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex are welcomed by Australia's Governor General Peter Cosgrove and his wife Lynne Cosgrove at Admiralty House during their visit in Sydney, Australia October 16, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Pool

Thomson Reuters

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's prime minister was among the first world leaders to congratulate Prince Harry and his wife Meghan on the news they were expecting their first child, as the royal couple toured Sydney's Opera House on Tuesday.

Kensington Palace on Monday announced the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expecting a baby next spring. The child will be seventh in line to the throne and the Queen's eighth great-grandchild.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison took the opportunity of a media conference on Israel to congratulate the couple.

"Tremendous news overnight and we are looking forward to celebrating that good news while they are enjoying their stay here in Australia," Morrison said.

The duke and duchess are to ride a ferry across Sydney Harbour past the Opera House on Tuesday, as well as watch an indigenous contemporary dance troupe and see koalas at the Taronga Zoo. A large crowd of onlookers is expected to greet them at the harborside zoo, which is renowned for its Australian wildlife.

The couple will meet farmers affected by a severe drought on Wednesday.

Television pictures showed the couple, Meghan dressed all in white, meeting Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe and a host of dignitaries on the shores of Sydney harbour.

It is the second tour of Australia by the younger generation of royals, after Prince William, Kate and their eldest son, George, visited in 2014.

Their trip coincides with the Invictus Games to be held in Sydney from October 20-27. The games founded by Harry are an international paralympic-style event for military personnel wounded in action.

Harry and Meghan will also visit New Zealand and the South Pacific islands of Tonga and Fiji during their tour.

Australia, a constitutional monarchy whose head of state is the British monarch, voted in 1999 against becoming a republic.

Support for a republic hovered around 50 percent in a January poll, a level largely unchanged in recent years, and there is little appetite to put the issue back on the agenda.

Prime Minister Morrison, who took the top job in August after a backbench revolt ousted predecessor Malcolm Turnbull, is a constitutional monarchist.

(Reporting by Wayne Cole and Melanie Burton; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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