CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Prince Harry and the former Meghan Markle arrived in Sydney on Monday for a 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific, just hours before Kensington Palace announced that the royal couple are expecting a child in the spring.
The trip is their only international tour since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were married in May, apart from a two-day visit to Ireland.
The palace said the couple has “appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public.”
Holding hands and casually dressed, the prince and the former American actress walked out an airport rear entrance and into a car. Meghan, wearing skinny black pants and a black, burgundy trimmed coat, was smiling and clutching folders, while Harry gave a thumbs up to bystanders.
Days after watching Harry’s cousin Princess Eugenie tie the knot in a lavish ceremony in Windsor, the couple touched down in Sydney on an overcast morning after a regular Qantas Airways flight from London with a brief stopover in Singapore.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the royal visit would have flow-on benefits for the state.
“I hope the weather holds up because it will be a wonderful experience for everybody, and what better place to be able to welcome them,” Berejiklian told Network Nine television.
Sydney’s weather is expected to be drizzly and cool on Tuesday, with showers forecast for most of the week.
It won’t be the first time Harry has had to brave the rain in Sydney. Last year, he made a whirlwind visit to cast his eye over the Invictus Games preparations, where he charmed his fans during torrential rain.
The couple’s current tour coincides with the games, which start in Sydney on Saturday. The sporting event, founded by Harry in 2014, gives sick and injured military personnel and veterans the opportunity to compete in sports such as wheelchair basketball.
Harry and Meghan will attend the games’ opening and closing ceremonies. In all, they have 76 engagements scheduled over 16 days in Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.
In Australia, they will pet a koala in a Sydney zoo, visit the drought-stricken Outback town of Dubbo and meet indigenous leaders on Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, in northeastern Queensland state.
The royal couple were driven from the airport to Admiralty House, the official Sydney residence of Governor General Peter Cosgrove, who represents Australia’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, Harry’s grandmother. The couple had no official functions on Monday following the 17,140-kilometer (10,650-mile) flight that Qantas says takes 22 hours and 20 minutes.
Hundreds of well-wishers gathered with umbrellas outside the airport and Admiralty House in the hope of catching a glimpse of Harry and Meghan. The crowd cheered as the waving couple was driven through the gates of the harbor-side mansion.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who plans to climb with Harry to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the visit, told Parliament on Monday that he commended the prince for coming to Sydney for the Invictus Games and welcomed the couple.
“I want to … commend Prince Harry for his tremendous initiative in lifting the spirits of every single service man and woman all around the globe,” Morrison said.
Harry and Meghan said during a television interview in November that they wanted to promote humanitarian causes close to their hearts across Commonwealth-member countries, including Australia.
The visit comes six months after Harry’s father, Prince Charles, made his 16th official visit to Australia, primarily to open the 21st Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast city in Queensland.