Royals head back to U.K. after 19-day Australia, New Zealand tour

And they’re off! Prince William, his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and their son, Prince George, concluded their 19-day tour of Australia and New Zealand on Friday and have set off for their journey back to the United Kingdom.

The second in line to the British throne and his comely family were left “bowled over” by the warmth of the welcome from well-wishers, Kensington Palace said, as they ended the longest royal tour in a generation and Prince George’s first official trip overseas.

William, 31, picked up his 9-month-old son from the back seat of a car before joining Catherine, the former Kate Middleton, when they bid farewell to their hosts on the Fairbairne Airbase tarmac.

PHOTOS: Royals visit New Zealand and Australia

The trio said goodbye to Governor General Peter Cosgrove, who represents Queen Elizabeth II in Australia, and his wife, Lynne, as well as Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and a a group of dignitaries before waving to the waiting crowd and photographers before boarding a military jet that would fly them to their connection with a commercial plane.


“The tour of New Zealand and Australia has been an incredible experience for both the Duke and Duchess and the couple really have enjoyed it immensely,” a palace spokesman said. “We always said this would be an opportunity for The Duke to introduce both countries to The Duchess and Prince George and the couple have been bowled over by the extraordinarily warm welcome shown to them as a family by people everywhere they went.”

Earlier that day, the duke and duchess attended a dawn service in Canberra commemorating the 99th anniversary of the tragic ANZAC Day (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps Day), which began during the First World War’s Gallipoli campaign that set out to capture a peninsula guarding the Dardanelles Strait in what is modern-day Turkey.

PHOTOS: Curious Prince George goes to the zoo

The royals laid a wreath on the war memorial in the nation’s capital, walked along the poppy-lined Wall of Remembrance and planted an Aleppo pine seedling derived from seeds gathered after the battle of Lone Pine at Gallipoli, according to reports.

The duchess, 32, whose fashion choices throughout the trip have inspired legions of duplicates, wore an indigo and white Michael Kors coat from the spring 2014 collection that she paired with a navy blue pillbox hat by Australian milliner Jonathan Howard. The fashion icon’s wardrobe budget came in at nearly $64,000, according to the Daily Mail, which is considered fairly thrifty by most fashion standards because the duchess recycled numerous looks throughout the tour.

(Wills likened one brightly hued look to “a banana” and an L.K. Bennett dress she wore got the attention of “Mindy Project” star Mindy Kaling, whose character wore the same dress in the Fox comedy.)

The couple began the nearly three-week tour in Wellington, New Zealand, where they were greeted with a hongi, a traditional Maori welcome that involves two people rubbing their noses together. The New Zealand leg included a slew of ceremonial appearances, a play date for George, a yacht race and a cricket tournament.

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While in Australia, the couple first visited the country’s iconic Sydney Opera House, went to the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, took George to meet his marsupial namesake at the Taronga Zoo, attended Easter services and took some gorgeous sunset portraits during a trip to the country’s Outback, where the family saw Ayers Rock and the Three Sisters landmark.

Throughout the trip, the couple has amassed numerous gifts for their son given to them by various patrons. Prince George now has a stuffed wombat and bilby, a bike and skateboard, a custom-made boat and surfboard, an Avanti cycling jersey and a kangaroo backpack among other souvenirs.


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