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Princess Royal pays tribute to Australian victims of bushfires and floods

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he Princess Royal continued her Australian tour by meeting with the families of two firefighters who died in the country’s devastating Black Summer bushfires.

The days of heavy rain which had been lashing Sydney and the east coast abated to provide Anne, who is Down Under to celebrate her mother’s Platinum Jubilee, with mostly blue skies and sun for day two of her visit.

The Queen’s eldest daughter ditched the more formal attire of the day prior in favour of slacks and a jacket to visit the New South Wales Rural Fire Service headquarters in Sydney on Sunday with her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence.

The Princess Royal was the guest of honour at Sydney Royal Easter Show on day one of her royal trip to Australia on behalf of the Queen (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) / PA Wire

Volunteer firefighters Geoffrey Keaton, 32, and Andrew O’Dwyer, 36, had been battling the fires south west of Sydney in December 2019 when a tree caused their fire truck to roll.

Due to each man leaving behind a young child, a fire truck-themed memorial playground had been built in their honour in the region where they lived and died.

On Sunday, the princess travelled to the playground in Buxton, some 62 miles south west of Sydney, to visit the site.

The young fathers were among 34 people killed during the fires which also pushed many of Australia’s unique species to near extinction – including the koala.

Anne changed into a green ensemble to tour the Sydney Royal Easter Show (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) / PA Wire

The day prior, the princess had acknowledged the hardship experienced by Australians and farmers in particular over the previous two years.

“I’ve seen seen how the past two years have been really difficult for the agricultural shows,” Anne said in her Sydney Royal Easter Show opening ceremony speech.

“Agricultural shows provide the opportunity for city children to learn about country life.”

The 71-year-old said her and her husband had been monitoring “the devastation of (the) floods” from afar, adding that Sir Tim’s brother was affected due to living in the northern New South Wales town of Lismore – one of the worst-hit areas.

Anne previously opened the show in 1988.

The Princess Royal was welcomed by Aboriginal performers during the opening ceremony (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) / PA Wire

Anne’s Australian trip on behalf of her mother will conclude with a visit to the Royal Australian Corps of Signals and Royal Australian Corps of Transport on Monday before travelling to Papua New Guinea.

On Monday and Tuesday the royal and her husband will tour the island nation, visiting Caritas Technical Secondary School, St John Ambulance, the Bomana War Cemetery, the Adventure Park Papua New Guinea and the National Museum and Art Gallery.

The princess will also open a Women’s Resource Centre at Vabukori Village and the National Cardiac Diagnostic Centre at Port Moresby General Hospital, respectively, and meet elders and community leaders at Hanuabada Village.

Anne will conclude the two-day tour with a dinner with Prime Minister James Marape and representatives from across the charity sector and business groups.

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