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THE Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George will touch down in Canberra this afternoon in front of 200 enthusiastic Canberrans who won balloted places to welcome the family to the capital.
The royals have a busy schedule in Canberra and the public will have an extra chance to glimpse them during a midweek visit to the National Portrait Gallery.
Gallery director Angus Trumble spoke exclusively to The Sunday Canberra Times about the royal visit planned for Thursday.
''People who come reasonably early should be able to put themselves in a position to get a good glimpse,'' he said. ''We know they will be leaving via the front door and will walk around the vicinity, so there may be an opportunity to glimpse the royal family in the forecourt. We believe there is a walkabout envisaged.''
Mr Trumble said he expected the crowd to add a fun, festive atmosphere to the couple's visit, saying: ''We expect some thousands of people to be in the vicinity on the day.''
Mr Trumble said the Duke and Duchess would be introduced to famous Australians whose portraits were hung at the gallery, including singer Gurrumul Yunupingu, who will perform for the couple at a formal reception before meeting them in front of his picture.
Mr Trumble said celebrated paediatrician and Australian of the Year in 1996, Dr John Yu, whose portrait is a sculpture in the form of a porcelain bust, would also meet the couple.
Dr Yu was chief executive of the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Sydney for 19 years.
The royal couple will also meet Gordon and Marilyn Darling, who played vital roles in establishing the gallery as founding patrons, as well as Australian tennis great Ken Rosewall, who amassed 18 major titles in a career that continued into his 40s.
Mr Trumble said all of the works chosen for the tour were part of the gallery's permanent collection.
''We have no option but to close on the day their Royal Highness' visit to allow federal security authorities to execute their security procedures,'' he said. ''But we are doing our best to carry the public along with us, so they can follow the same tour.''
Mr Trumble said the gallery would be closed for the entire day and reopen on Friday, when the public would be welcome to retrace the Duke and Duchess' steps.