Page last updated at 07:22 GMT, Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Prince William in Australia for unofficial tour

A woman touches Prince William's cheek
About 2,000 people turned up to see Prince William in Redfern

Prince William has arrived in Australia for an unofficial tour taking in areas hit by devastating bushfires in 2009.

The prince, who personally requested the trip, arrived from New Zealand where he had been on his first official visit representing the Queen.

He was greeted with a traditional smoking ceremony in the predominantly Aboriginal Sydney suburb of Redfern.

He will also meet Australian soldiers in Sydney before visiting the fire-ravaged communities outside Melbourne.

The 27-year-old last visited Australia as a nine-month-old baby, in 1983.

On arrival on Tuesday, the prince was first taken to meet the Queen's representative in Australia, Governor General Quentin Bryce.

They were joined for lunch by Australian singer Delta Goodrem, cricketer Michael Clarke and Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham.

Prince Willian watches an elder perform a smoking ceremony
The prince met members of Sydney's Aboriginal community

In Redfern, he watched as an Aboriginal elder carried out the sacred cleansing ritual, fanning a cloud of smoke from a pile of smouldering leaves.

William then waved to the cheering crowd of about 2,000 well-wishers, before being ushered inside a community centre to meet indigenous Australians.

"We're over the moon that he's come to this part of the city to spend time with us," said Lewis Kelly, from Kempsey, 260 miles north of Sydney.

"I was surprised when I heard it on the grapevine that he was coming here to see the indigenous people, the real Australians."

The prince's tour comes as a poll revealed the majority of Australians would prefer Prince William to be their next king instead of his father Prince Charles.

The survey for ITV News found 58% of those interviewed thought William should be the next monarch, compared with 30% for Charles.

It found 45% of Australians were in favour of the Queen remaining Australia's head of state and 43% were against.

The survey saw 1,203 Australian adults questioned.



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