Duchess of Sussex says 'we're ready and excited to join the club' after pregnancy announcement

Hannah Furness
- PA

The Duchess of Sussex has said that she and her husband are "ready" and "excited to  join the club" after announcing they are becoming parents.

The Duke spoke of his joy at being able to announce news of the new royal baby in Australia, saying he could not think of a better place to tell the world.

After a wet and windy start to the Sussex's time Down Under, the sun was shining for the couple as they enjoyed the sights of Sydney on the first official day of their tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.

Much of the attention was on the Duchess after the couple revealed on Monday that they are expecting their first baby

Sporting a cream dress by Australian designer Karen Gee, the duchess also wore a touching tribute to her late mother-in-law - a pair of jewel-encrusted butterflies which once belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales. She also wore a bracelet from the same collection, assumed to be a gift from Prince Harry in celebration of a new stage in their lives. 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at Sydney Opera House on Tuesday Credit: Don Arnold /WireImage

At a reception, the Duchess met Eddie Woo, a maths teacher and YouTube star, who told her about his three children, aged five, seven and 10, who require "a lot of energy".

His wife Michelle said: “There’s no rest, but it’s so rewarding.” 

The Duchess laughed, before telling them: “We’re ready! We’re excited to join the club.”

She also met singer-songwriter Missy Higgins, who recently welcomed her second child, daughter Luna, and told the Duchess: “Cherish each moment because it goes by so fast. It really does.”

The Duke, who seemed to hesitate as he spoke of the baby in public for the first time, faltered as he told a small reception of his delight "whether it's a boy or girl". 

Speaking at an afternoon reception at Admiralty House in Sydney, hosted by the Governor General and his wife, the Duke delivered a short speech detailing how thrilled he was to return to Australia, and to introduce his wife to the country for the first time. 

"We genuinely couldn't think of a better place to announce the upcoming baby, whether it's a boy or a girl," he said, looking at the Duchess with pride. 

"It is great to be back in Australia," he said. "And especially even more so as this is my wife's first visit here, so I’m very excited to show her this incredible country of yours, perhaps not Kangaroo Flats military training area in Darwin though!

"You’ll also notice we had a roof on our boat earlier after last year’s downpour. Luckily Sydney’s sun is shining today so thank you for organising the weather."

Saying he is "particularly grateful to the Australian Government for hosting the Invictus Games, which the whole country has embraced with great enthusiasm", he added that the forthcoming feats of athletic achievement will "quite literally astound you". 

Thanking Sir Peter and Lady Cosgrove for the loan of their home, Admiralty House, he joked: "We're inviting all of our mates in Sydney to visit. 

"Finally we’re both delighted to be here and really impressed to see you serving beer and tea at an afternoon reception, in true Aussie style," he said.

"Thank you for the incredibly warm welcome and the chance to meet so many Aussies from all walks of life."

Duchess meets Harry's 'favourite Aussie'

The reception came after the Duchess of Sussex met Prince Harry's friend, a war widow of a Victoria Cross hero who has turned out to meet him come rain or shine.

Around 2,000 people packed into the promenade outside the Sydney Opera House to catch a glimpse of the royal couple. 

But their attention was dedicated to one special fan who has stolen a kiss from Prince Harry on more than one occasion. 

Daphne Dunne, a 98-year-old who has been dubbed Prince Harry’s “favourite Aussie”, forged a special bond with the duke when he visited the country in 2015, and was photographed greeting him in the pouring rain in Sydney last year.

On Tuesday, she was reunited with the expectant father, who summoned his wife outside the Sydney Opera House to meet her.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex greet royal fan and war widow Daphne Dunne  Credit: Wireimage

Spotting her in her wheelchair, accompanied by her daughter, the duke rushed over to give her a warm hug. 

“I was looking for you earlier and hoped you’d be here, it’s so good to see you again," he said. The duchess too knelt down to embrace her, saying: “I’m so glad I got to meet you. Harry has told me all about you and your special bond, it’s so lovely you came to see us, thank you.” 

Mrs Dunne told the couple of her joy at news of their baby, due in the spring, and gave them a card for the Royal family. 

Prince Harry meets Daphne Dunne at the Sydney Opera House on May 7, 2015 Credit: Getty

Before leaving, the duchess told her: “Hopefully next time we’ll have our little one with us.” 

Mrs Dunne's first husband, Lieutenant Albert Chowne, died aged 25 in 1945 during an attack on a Japanese machine gun post in Papua New Guinea. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, which Mrs Dunne was wearing when she first met Prince Harry.

Speaking afterward, she said: “It was lovely to meet the Duchess Meghan. Harry is a wonderful man and I’m so happy he had found happiness, they both deserved the absolute world together.”

Prince Harry hugs Daphne Dunne, 97, during a walk around The Rocks in Sydney on June 7, 2017 Credit: AFP

Asked if this time was the most special meeting her hero Harry, Daphne said: “We’ll it was certainly different. He’s married now for a start and he looks very happy. I am over the moon for him. She is a wonderful girl. 

“I congratulated them on their baby and said I wished them all the happiness they deserve.”

Meeting their namesakes at the zoo

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at the Opera House after visiting Taronga Zoo, where they were introduced to their koala namesakes and a “stud” of a short-legged echidna.

During the visit to the zoo, the couple, who announced a day earlier they are expecting their first baby, were invited to stroke two koalas and their joeys, who were named Harry and Meghan in honour of the royal wedding in May.

The Duchess called the animals “so, so sweet”, shyly touching one named Ruby who sat sleepily on a lower branch in the small, open koala enclosure.

The Duke was more forthcoming, reaching to pet the koala with the encouragement of keepers, and admiring their healthy coats and quizzing keeper Suzie MacNamara about their diet and sleeping habits.

The couple were also shown wallabies and quokkas in their enclosures, leaning on the zoo’s low fences to admire them and watch them being fed.

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle meet an echidna at Sydney's Taronga Zoo Credit: AFP

Accompanied by the premier of New South Wales Gladys Berejiklian, they spent around five minutes with the koalas, Ruby and Wattle, whose joeys were named Meghan and Harry as a wedding gift from the people of the region.

In a private moment away from the cameras, they couple were also given a stuffed toy version of the animal in celebration of their baby news.

In a research laboratory at the zoo, they were also introduced to Lynx, a short-legged echidna.

Dr Phoebe Meagher, research and pathology coordinator, told the couple that the animal is the “star” of their recent research project, which helps tackle the illegal wildlife trade.

Showing them the ID tags, Michelle Shaw, wildlife nutritionist, said he is a breeding male, joking: “He’s kind of a stud, he’s had two babies.”

The Duke seemed concerned about the animal’s wellbeing in a room full of cameras, asking of its nose: “The snot, is that a good thing or stress?”

“It’s ok, he’s drooling out of excitement,” the scientists told him. “And he’s just been fed.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are shown a yellow bellied glider during a visit to Taronga Zoo  Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth /AP

After being invited to pet the echidna, the Duchess tentatively stroked its spines, which are used to track the animals and monitor their diet.

The scientific research will allow those tackling the illegal wildlife trade to better pinpoint where animals are coming from.

“Oh well done,” said the Duchess, hearing about the research of the four female scientists. “Congratulations, that’s really impressive.”

After the short tour, the Duke and Duchess went to unveil a plaque commemorating the opening of a research centre. 

The Duke and Duchess were presented with traditional flowers and platypus pins as they opened the Taronga Institute of Science and Learning.

As Finley Blue, four, and Sasha Gallagher, six, presented the bouquets to Meghan, Harry joked: "Oh, you're giving them both to her."

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex receive bouquets from Finley Blue and Dasha Gallagher at Taronga Zoo Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth /AP

The Duke spoke of the importance of zoos, telling donors, zoo staff and 20 volunteers aged 13-19 from Youth at the Zoo programme: "Zoos in the 21st century, they have to modernise with everything else that's going on around them.

"Taronga Zoo seems to be leading the way. Zoos across the world, those that are still going, who have still got the funding, have got a lot to learn from a place like this."

Before the ribbon cutting, Meghan appeared to realise she was still holding her coat and moved towards an aide to take it as a member of the crowd shouted "I'll look after it!"

As Cameron Kerr, director of the Taronga Conservation Socety, gave the couple the platypus pins, which are the logo of the zoo, he spoke of how zoologists originally thought the mammal was "a joke" when it was first brought to the UK.

He said: "When the first people from England came to Australia and sent one back to a British museum, they rejected it and said they are making fun of us. They've sown a couple of different animals together." 

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at Man O'War Steps  Credit: Getty

Departing, the couple were treated to a ride in a gondola, giving spectacular views over Sydney harbour and allowing a glimpse of other animal enclosures, including a curious baby elephant, below.

First toys for the baby

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex began the day by being officially welcomed to Australia at Sydney’s Admiralty House, with all eyes turning to the mother-to-be’s bump.

A day after the couple announced they were expecting their first child, the Duke kept a close eye on his wife as they were introduced to dignitaries at their first event of their Pacific tour, reaching out to stroke her back as she walked through the grounds in heels.

Stepping out in the a cream dress by Australian designer Karen Gee, the Duchess caused the fashion brand's website to crash as people tried to snap up the $1,800 shift outfit.

Meeting with Governor General Sir Peter Crosgrove and his wife Lynn, Lady Cosgrove, the Duke and Duchess were given their first gift for Baby Sussex: a toy kangaroo complete with joey.

The Duchess, thanking them, said: “Our first baby gift!” They were also given a pair of baby Uggs which the Duke declared “awesome”.

Britain's Prince Harry, right, reacts as Meghan, right, Duchess of Sussex holds a toy kangaroo given by Australia's Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove Credit: Reuters

'Heir dinkum'

Interest in Australia, which is often cited as a stronghold of republicanism, has so far been strong, with wall-to-wall news coverage and commentary about the Sussex's new arrival. 

The Australian media has given a rapturous response to the pregnancy announcement. 

“Heir dinkum,” said Sydney tabloid, The Daily Telegraph. “You heard it here first!”.  The Sydney Morning Herald’s front page declared: “A smooth ride to Sydney, but royals reveal bump on the way”.   Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper called the baby a “True blue bub”. 

The announcement came just hours after the pair arrived in Sydney on Monday morning, adding  a frenzied atmosphere to a royal tour that was already generating hype. 

Crowds gathered on Tuesday morning at the Sydney Opera House to see the couple. "I really want to ask about Meghan's makeup," a girl, DL Webb-Smith, told ABC News.

Couple get advice from Queen

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been taking advice directly from the Queen and the rest of the Royal family as they embark on their tour.

The couple, who announced the pregnancy just a few hours after they touched down at Sydney airport on Monday, have been advised by more experienced family members thought to include the Queen, Prince of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The Duke of Sussex with Australia's Governor General Peter Cosgrove at Admiralty House in Sydney  Credit: PA

The Cambridges, who live near then at Kensington Palace, undertook their own major tour of Australia when Prince George was just a baby, while the Queen has visited many times before.

A palace source said: "Their Royal Highnesses are delighted to be here, and really looking forward to the next 16 days.

"They have been very busy preparing, there have been lots of meetings with their team in the weeks leading up to the tour, and briefings have happened on the way over.

"And advice has been given by different members of the Royal Family.

"They're obviously very aware of the work that has gone in from all the host countries to make this tour come together and they're very grateful."