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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 March, 2005, 14:26 GMT
Charles' Australia tour under way
Prince Charles meets Royal Perth Hospital staff
Perth hospital staff treated Bali bomb victims
Prince Charles has visited the burns unit at a Perth hospital where victims of the Bali bomb were treated.

The reception at the Royal Perth Hospital was the first official function of his five-day, five-city tour of Australia.

His arrival in Western Australia comes amid controversy over his impending marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles.

And in the Commonwealth country, debate continues over whether it should have an Australian as head of state.

Medical pioneer

A poll in one Australian newspaper suggested 57% of people would prefer to get rid of the monarchy rather than see Charles as King with Camilla when the Queen is succeeded.

Just under one-third wanted to retain the monarchy.

The Prince met 10 of the 33 Bali bomb victims treated for burns injuries at the Perth hospital.

Prince Charles scratches his head as he passes a republican demonstrator
The tour comes with its share of anti-monarchist feeling

He was greeted by British-born researcher Fiona Wood, who pioneered a revolutionary technique to reduce scarring by spraying skin cells onto burns.

She is currently Australian of the Year in honour of her contribution to medicine.

At the hospital, Prince Charles said: "I can't tell you what a pleasure it is to be back in Australia, particularly in Western Australia, and to be back in good old Perth."

In the first speech of his five-day visit, he paid tribute to the hospital's work with Bali bomb and Asian tsunami victims.

Royals return

The Prince also visited a lobster farm, a centre studying soil salinity and a project to redevelop an industrial area.

One of my most special recollections is of sleeping out under the stars
Prince Charles

Around 200 people turned out in the sunshine to see the Prince and some handed him tiny daffodils to mark St David's Day.

The Prince later attended an evening reception, where he recalled once sleeping under the stars.

"One of my most special recollections is of sleeping out under the stars, which is something that will always remain forever in my memory," he said.

"The only trouble is that it has spoilt me for the rest of my life because I want to lie out wherever I can."

Early swim

He also spoke of the time he was accosted by model Jane Priest on a Perth beach in the 1970s as part of a PR stunt.

"I have recollections of swimming very early in the morning on a beach when one or two people were detailed off to run up from the surf and do unmentionable things," he said.

The heir to the throne will be in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory on Wednesday and Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra later in the week. He then flies to New Zealand and Fiji.

His Australian tour comes as Tasmanian-born Crown Princess Mary of Denmark makes a return visit to her home country.

Charles' last Australian tour in 1994 was marred by a scare, when a university student fired two blank rounds from a starter's pistol as the Prince gave a speech in Sydney.

The student, David Kang, has since become a barrister in the New South Wales capital.


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The crowds have not turned out for Charles' visit



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