SYDNEY (AP) — Hundreds of cheering Australians crowded around Sydney's Opera House on Thursday to bid adieu to Britain's Prince Harry as he wrapped up a month-long embedment with the Australian army.
The prince, whose decade-long military career will end next month, took part in a military exercise on Sydney Harbor before chatting with dozens of giggling primary school students on the Opera House's steps. He later signed autographs, snapped photos and shook hands with hordes of royal enthusiasts, several of whom handed him stuffed toy koalas and held up signs blaring "Marry Me Harry" and "His Royal Hotness!" One crown-wearing woman, among those pleading for a proposal, managed to land a kiss on the laughing prince's cheek.
Harry, who was twice deployed to Afghanistan, is now fifth in line to the throne after the birth last week of his niece, Princess Charlotte. Asked if he was planning to bring the new princess any souvenirs from Australia, Harry said he had plenty of cuddly toys given to him by his fans.
"I'm looking forward to meeting her — she's beautiful," he said.
Captain Harry Wales, as he is known in the British Army, spent four weeks embedded with a number of Australian army units and regiments in Darwin, Perth and Sydney. He took part in flight simulation training, learned wilderness survival techniques, visited an Aboriginal community and played a game of wheelchair Aussie-rules football with wounded soldiers.
"All it's done is made me not want to finish my military career," he said. "I've been so well looked after."
Harry also visited a British officer who lost both legs while on patrol in Afghanistan in 2011. Lt. Ali Spearing traveled from the United Kingdom to Sydney where doctors used a new procedure to fit him with prosthetic legs.
The prince will next head to New Zealand for a week-long visit before returning to Britain.