The Prince George effect was back on display today when, in one of the worst kept secrets of the royal tour, the cherubic third in line to the throne sprinkled more of his royal stardust with a "surprise" appearance at the bilby enclosure at Taronga Zoo.
A close encounter of the furry kind between Autumn the quokka and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Will and Kate meet some of Australia's other unique fauna, including Autumn the quokka and a pair of echidnas called Lynx and Jindi.
The Duke and Duchess arrive at the bird display area where they will enjoy a performance from some of the zoo's finest feathered residents.
Meanwhile at the bird enclosure where Will and Kate are scheduled to enjoy a bird show this afternoon, well-wishers and reporters who have been waiting for hours eagerly anticipate the arrival of the Duke and Duchess.
The sound of helicopters circlling overhead battle with the screech of birds below, which are no doubt excited about having been selected to perform for the royals.
Reporter Damien Murphy says the crowd in the bird area is under strict orders not to move during the show as the birds require complete silence and stillness to pull off their performance.Back to top
Two Georges - one a prince, the other a bilby - meet for the first time. Only time will tell how this fateful encounter will alter both their lives.
William and Kate continue their tour of the zoo, feeding tree kangaroos before visiting some of the other enclosures.
Having unveiled the bilby enclosure named in his honour, Prince George's first official engagement during the royal visit to Australia has come to a close. The nine-month-old is now on his way back to admirality house.
Having met the real deal moments earlier, Prince George was less than impressed with the toy bilby offered to him by his mother the Duchess of Cambridge.
The baby prince gazed in fascination at the endangered marsupial scratching around in its enclosure, enticing the bilby with some food as his mother held him close to the glass fence dividing the pair.
But despite his keen interest in the bilby, Prince George proved himself no fool for the stuffed version, eagerly grabbing the toy bilby present before throwing it on the ground - and sticking the yellow gift card straight in his mouth.
An excited baby Prince George has met an equally animated bilby, renamed George in the prince's honour.
The bilby was previously named Boy.
The enthralled nine-month-old royal, steadied on his feet by his parents Will and Kate, reached a number of times towards the tiny marsupial, which seemed somewhat less transfixed by the royal presence than by the contents of his enclosure.
The cameras, on the other hand, only had eyes for Prince George.
Prince George is proving almost as popular as his mother, Kate, who has repeatedly stolen the spotlight from her husband William during their royal visit to Australia.
Tracee Harley, 42, and her eight-year-old daughter Charlotte were excited to catch a glimpse of the royal family, AAP reports.
"I’m coming to see baby George and the bilbies - that’s what we’re here for," Ms Harley told AAP earlier on Sunday.
"I’m really excited. Actually Kate’s gorgeous, we can’t wait to get a glimpse. With baby George it’s a new generation of royals, so it’s really exciting."
Charlotte Harley was wearing a rainbow wrist band she planned to give Kate.
"I’m really excited to see the baby bilby and George, and I want to know what Kate wears," she said.Back to top
The Cambridge family arrived at the zoo, which is at capacity, at 2.25pm, AAP reports.
Kate carried George - dressed in dark blue shorts, a striped lighter blue shirt, dark blue socks and shoes - as they entered the zoo. He looked inquisitive and was chuckling and looking at the cameras.
Kate had changed out her dove-grey Alexander McQueen outfit she wore to church, into a cream broderie angalise dress by a designer who did not want to be named.
William was also dressed casually in a dark blue checked shirt and chinos. The have now gone into the enclosure to meet the bilby George, who until earlier on Sunday had been named Boy.
This is Prince George’s first royal engagement in Australia and his second official function. During the New Zealand leg of the trip, he "hosted" a play group event with other babies his age at Government House.
The crowd goes wild as Kate and Wills arrive at Taronga Zoo with a somewhat bewildered Prince George in his mother's arms.
Prince George is set to arrive at Taronga Zoo with his parents the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in a matter of minutes.
The nine-month-old has joined his parents for a family day at the zoo, marking his first public engagement during the royal family’s visit to Australia.
George has been filmed in the car with William and Catherine before leaving Admiralty House for the short drive to Taronga Zoo.
During their visit, the trio will visit the bilby enclosure named after Prince George as part of Australia’s gift following his birth on July 22 last year. After the opening, where George will also meet a bilby named George in his honour, he’ll return to Admiralty House while Will and Kate will take in more sights of the zoo.
Among the lucky animals selected to meet the royal family during their visit to the zoo are:
- Galahs JoJo, Jimbo and Nelson
- Major Mitchell cockatoos B1 and B2
- Harry the brolga
- Whipley the barking owl
- Koalas Maggie and Luca
- Echidnas Lynx and Jindi
- and Autumn the quokka
We are assured that guards will be on hand to ensure the royals aren't savaged by any over-excited animals.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge - and perhaps Prince George - will unveil a plaque at the renamed bilby exhibit at Taronga Park Zoo this afternoon. The plaque reads:
"A national gift from the Commonwealth Government to commemorate the birth of His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge.
"On 23 July 2013 the Prime Minister, the Honourable Kevin Rudd MP, announced a $10,000 sponsorship of Taronga Zoo's Bilby exhibit and conservation work as part of Australia's national gift to commemorate the birth of his Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge on 22 July 2013.
"The refurbished exhibit was officially renamed The Prince George Bilby Exhibit in the Australian Nightlife display by Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday 20 April 2014, during their first visit to Australia with Prince George.
"Taronga Zoo is very proud to be part of the national breeding program for Bilbies and to have Australia's unique wildlife, and the work of Australian zoos to care for them, recognised as part of Australia's national gift to Prince George. "
It's a full house for the royal visit to Taronga Zoo this afternoon.
At 1.30pm, the zoo put up a sign telling visitors it would allow no further admissions. It also sent out a message via Twitter.
Taronga Zoo is currently full and there will be no more admissions. Please check the website for updates. Thank you for your understanding.— Taronga Zoo (@tarongazoo) April 20, 2014
It's not every day - or even every Easter Sunday - that royalty comes to watch you perform.
Choristers from St Andrew's Cathedral School choir performed the Australian premiere of Trinity Te Deum, accompanied by soaring organ and brass, for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today.
"I feel pretty special," senior chorister Sebastian Andrews, 12, from Newtown, said after the service.
"It was a bit nerve-wracking, it's not every day that you get to perform for the royals."
He said the couple whispered to each other several times and appeared to enjoy the hour and fifteen minutes' long service.
Members of the congregation left tightly clutching Orders of Service. Phyllis Lee, 58, from Maroubra, said she would keep hers as a souvenir of the day she worshipped alongside their royal highnesses.
"I'm so blessed, it was a real privilege to be in the presence of the future King."
Sam Lau, 36, from Artarmon, said the service had been without pomp.
"It felt like a normal service, there was no special attention paid to them. It was quite laid-back."
While it's yet to be confirmed whether baby Prince George will accompany his parents to the ceremony to officially name Taronga Zoo's Prince George Bilby Exhibit, Zoo officials have decided to further honour the nine-month-old by renaming one of the endangered marsupials after him.
When Prince George was born last July, the Australian government made a donation to the zoo for its Bilby preservation program, which is helping to restore numbers of the animal in the wild.
Bilbies - which are fondly considered Australia's answer to the Easter Bunny - are the largest of the bandicoot family.
Tony Abbott and wife Margie outside St Andrew's Cathedral with The Archbishop of Sydney Dr Glenn Davies, left, and the Dean of Sydney Phillip Jensen, right.
And, as if nothing happened, the crowds have disappeared and life has gone back to normal around St Andrews cathedral ...