Words by Bianca Soldani
There’s nothing more Australian than kicking your shoes off and getting your toes stuck into the sand at the beach – which is exactly what the Duke and Duchess of Sussex did on Friday.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle started the fourth day of their debut international tour at Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach, and the first thing they did when they hit the sand was take off their shoes.
While it seems like the most normal and natural thing to do, it’s actually not very royal.
When the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton visited Sydney’s Manly Beach back in 2014, she kept her wedges firmly on her feet, just as Harry and Meghan did on Melbourne’s South Beach yesterday.
Likewise, Princess Diana did not remove her heels when she visited the NSW beach in Terrigal on her debut visit Down Under back in 1983.
This is because it’s very un-royal to go barefoot, and all royal women in particular are required to wear tights on public occasions.
Interestingly, there is one exception to this rule that was demonstrated by Meghan’s mother-in-law Camilla Parker Bowles, earlier this year.
It wasn’t the most natural look, but technically it did not break royal protocol.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Bondi Beach stop
Harry and Meghan arrived at Bondi Beach early on Friday morning for day four of their 16-day royal tour of Australia, New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji.
It was “Fluro Friday” and the honeymooners met with a local surfing community group raising awareness for mental health and wellbeing, known as OneWave.
One Wave co-founders Grant Trebilco and Sam Schumacher use surfing as a way to help people talk to each other about mental health, and on Fluro Fridays they ask people share their experiences while enjoying yoga.
Participants were dressed up in their best coloured outfits, and even helped the Duke and Duchess get into the spirit by giving them leis to wear.
The pair spent over 20 minutes speaking with members of the group within the “Anti Bad Vibe Circle” where people of all ages discuss their experiences with mental health issues.
The Duke and Duchess then went on to meet members of the public who had gathered on the beach to meet them, and were handed bouquets of flowers and even a bunch of carrots.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in Melbourne
In Melbourne on Thursday, Meghan was taken by surprise during an official appearance in the Victorian capital.
The 37-year-old accompanied Prince Harry to a special engagement to learn about some innovative programs developed by young Victorians, but she wasn’t expecting a slight fright when she met a particular group of school students.
Meghan and Harry diligently inspected a scaled miniature Formula 1 car designed and made by Trinity Grammar students, but as the mini vehicle zoomed down a makeshift track, Meghan jumped and covered her mouth, before nervously bursting into laughter.
Prince Harry and the school students giggled along with the Duchess of Sussex after her startled moment which was captured on camera.
Earlier that day the Duke and Duchess met locals along Government House Drive before heading into Government House for a reception hosted by the Governor of Victoria the Honourable Linda Dessau AC.
Harry and Meghan’s Dubbo visit
Earlier in the day, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex met five-year-old schoolboy Luke Vincent, who was overjoyed to come face-to-face with the royal couple.
He’d been waiting for the royal couple for hours, and in a heartwarming moment, the kindergartener dove straight in for a cuddle with Harry as the royal bent down to greet him.
The young boy, who has Down syndrome, was fascinated by the Duke of Sussex’s scruffy beard, and he reached in to touch it before presenting a pregnant Meghan with a some flowers and a hug.
According to Luke’s mum, he “loves” beards.
“Luke’s favourite person is Santa Claus, isn’t it?” she told 7News, to which Luke replied, “Yeah, Santa Claus.”
Mrs. Vincent admitted she was slightly concerned after Luke “jumped up” on Harry, as she was told there was a “no touching” rule around the royals.
“I was very concerned once he started rubbing Prince Harry’s face and his hair, but Prince Harry was completely gracious,” she said. “And was so polite and realised what was happening and his infatuation with his beard.
“We can only thank him so much for treating Luke with such respect.”