Prince blames work pressure for brief Aussie visit

AP News
Posted: Oct 06, 2013 8:06 AM
Prince blames work pressure for brief Aussie visit

PERTH, Australia (AP) — Britain's Prince Harry on Sunday blamed work pressures for the brevity of a two-day visit Down Under representing his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

Harry arrived in Sydney on Saturday to celebrate the centenary of the Australian navy fleet's first visit to the city's famed harbor.

He described his Sydney experience as "absolutely fantastic" before boarding Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's jet on Sunday to fly to the west coast city of Perth.

"It's just ... really sad that we're leaving," the 29-year-old royal told reporters before boarding the jet. "Work — just can't get the time off work nowadays."

"The next time I come back you're going to be struggling to get rid of me, I'm sure," he added.

Western Australia state Premier Colin Barnett, who greeted Harry in Perth, said the fourth in line to the throne explained that he had to be home in a few days.

"He said it was a short visit because he had to be back to work on Thursday," Barnett told reporters.

The Apache helicopter pilot and Afghan War veteran visited the Australian Special Air Service Regiment commando headquarters in Perth before ending his first Australian visit officially representing the monarch.

The queen last made the same 17,000-kilometer (10,600-mile) journey from London to Sydney in 2011, when she was 85 years old.

The prince was due to fly from Perth later Sunday for Dubai to attend a children's charity dinner on Monday.

Harry made his only scheduled meeting with the Australian public on Saturday, when he chatted and shook hands with a throng of excited fans on the Sydney waterfront.

He had earlier coasted past the Sydney Opera House on board the Australian navy's survey ship HMAS Leeuwin, one of dozens of warships from 17 nations on the harbor this weekend for the International Fleet Review.

The review, essentially a parade of ships, commemorates the arrival of the original Royal Australian Navy fleet a century ago.

About 40 warships, 16 tall ships and 8,000 sailors were participating in the weekend's celebrations. The participating warships are from the U.S., China, Britain, Brunei, Micronesia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Spain, Thailand and Tonga.