- Royals cause site to crash
- As it happened: Prince William and Kate head to Royal Easter Show and Manly
Locals have long believed Manly the centre of the universe. Suspicions were confirmed on Thursday when Manly boy Mike Baird landed the second leg of the leadership double with the other local hero, Tony Abbott. On Friday, Manly received Royal Assent.
While many in our nation solemnly marked Good Friday, Manly residents (and quite a few thousand tourists) were doing what they do best - hanging on the beach - when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wandered onto the sand opposite the Manly Pacific hotel. The duchess was perched so high on wedges that some in the crowd feared for her safety. But she did not embrace the beach girl ethos and go shoeless.
Hitting the sand: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, visits Manly beach. Photo: Wolter Peeters
The last time a royal went beach boy, her father-in-law, Prince Charles, wore board shorts to a Perth beach in 1979 and was kissed by a local for his trouble.
It was a perfect afternoon for the beach: 25 degrees, pleasant one-metre, turquoise autumn waves that seemed to change to royal blue with shade from Norfolk pines creeping across the sand.
Manly turned into a budgie smugglers paradise for the occasion.
Royal Australian tour - Day 3
Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge during day three of their tour of Australia. Today they visited The Royal Easter Show, Bear Cottage in Manly and Manly Beach. Like these photos? Go to www.fairfaxphotos.com . Follow us at twitter.com/photosSMH Photo: Janie Barrett
And not just because Manly Sluggos purveyor Budgie Smugglers had run up Union Jack-patterned togs and a tiny costume for Prince George. Rather because the pride of local Surf Life Saving Club members performed relays and board races for the royal couple.
They were escorted onto the beach by the Prime Minister and the Premier and Mr Abbott accompanied the prince to meet Nippers and life savers while the princess seemed to eschew walking on the sand as much as was possible. She fired a starting gun to begin a board race.
Earlier, council lifeguards had put up ''Danger strong current'' signs to keep visitors from getting into trouble in the water. Many repeated requests on the Tannoy to swim between the flags.
Apart from the locals, the Manly crowd was full of English people suffering in the sun. Little wonder perhaps: the 2011 Australian census found the northern beaches to be Sydney's whitest and most monoethnic area.
It was no accident Manly was chosen to introduce the royals to beachdom.
Certainly there were historic reasons: Tommy Tanna introduced body surfing to Australia at the southern end in front of the Manly SLSC in the late 1890s. And the Premier and the Prime Minister are both high-profile members of the Queenscliff SLSC at the northern end of the sand.
Earlier, the royal couple visited Bear Cottage children's hospice on the hill above Manly.
The visit was designed to raise awareness of the hospice, which provides medical and end-of-life care to children suffering from life-limiting illnesses.
The cause is dear to the duchess, whose first public speech was when she was appointed the royal patron of East Anglia's Children's Hospices in Britain.
She told children, families and staff at Bear Cottage that it was wonderful to see the work being done there.
''The haven that you have created here is inspirational and there is so much that you can share with each other as you continue to support and nurture those in your care,'' the duchess said to the packed room that included Mr Abbott and Mr Baird.
The royal couple left Manly beach after 40 minutes in the afternoon sun.
What with Mr Abbott and Mr Baird and now the imprimatur of the Cambridges, locals consider themselves so blessed that a Manly Warringah NRL grand final victory is their destiny.