The Duke and Duchess of Sussex continue their focus on the environment with an engagement on Friday night at the Australian Geographic Society awards.
The were greeted with a huge round of applause when they entered the ballroom of Sydney’s Shangri-La Hotel just after 8.15pm.
Meghan stunned in a black and white, ballerina length, heavily-embroidered Oscar de la Renta tulle dress for the gala event, while Harry was in a blue suit.
The royal couple were delayed by about an hour after flying in from Tonga after a four-day visit to the Pacific nation and Fiji.
Prince Harry and Meghan’s charter jet back to Australia had to pull up its landing upon approach at Sydney Airport and fly back around because of another aircraft on the runway.The flight landed safely a few minutes later.
Security was tight, with each of the 400 guests undergoing security checks well in advance of Harry and Meghan’s much anticipated arrival just after 8.15pm.
As she prepared to deliver a traditional indigenous welcome for the guests, Aboriginal elder Aunty Anne Weldon quipped: “I’ve never had to go through a scanner to do a welcome to country before!”
MC for the night was broadcaster Ray Martin who gently reminded the audience not to take any photos of the royals.
“Please don’t try and approach them, they’re not the Kardashians,” he said, prompting much laughter.
Polar explorers Eric Philips and Tim Jarvis were seated at the table with the Duke and Duchess.
Mr Philips was a guide who helped Harry and wounded soldiers from Australia, the United States, Canada and Britain ski to the South Pole in 2013.
He also guided a 14-year-old Jade Hameister and her dad in 2016 on their 650km-record-breaking journey to the South Pole, earning her the Australian Geographic Society’s Young Adventurer of the Year Award that year.
The Melbourne teenager clinched the same award again on Friday in recognition of her 585km, 37-day journey form the Amundsen Coast to the South Pole in January this year.
By completing the journey she became the youngest person and first Australian woman to ski from the coast to the South Pole unsupported and unassisted to complete the journey, and the first woman to set a new route through the Transantarctic mountain range.
Jade, now 16, was presented her award by Prince Harry.
“He’s becoming an icon for young people … it’s nice to have someone like that to look up to,” she told AAP before the awards.
Sydney teenager Sophia Skarparis, who started a petition to ban plastic bags in NSW in February, received the society’s Young Conservationist of the Year award from Meghan.
“Plastic bags need to be banned now. It can’t wait. Now I can spread my message to everyone including Prince Harry and Meghan,” she told AAP before the awards.
The couple will head out to the final day of the Invictus Games on Saturday before flying to New Zealand on Sunday for four days to round off their first overseas visit as a married couple.