General Peter Cosgrove meets the Queen.

General Peter Cosgrove meets the Queen. Photo: Getty Images

Amnesia and diplomacy walked hand in hand when the governor-general in waiting Peter Cosgrove went to London to visit the Queen.

In his first media interview since Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced his appointment, General Cosgrove was questioned about his personal views on Australia becoming a republic but said he could not remember how he voted in the 1999 referendum.

However he said he was a "a staunch Australian".

However, General Cosgrove did let slip that one of the first jobs in his new office would be to host Prince George who will travel to Australia with his parents William and Kate in April.

"That's going to be a very welcome visit,” General Cosgrove told Australian journalists.

“They'll bring with them Prince George, the little one.

“They'll be in Sydney and then in Canberra after their sojourn in New Zealand.

"There's sort of an arm's distance hosting in the sense that we want them to be able to relax, so the idea would be to greet them, settle them in - but very briefly - and then leave them to enjoy the delights of Sydney."

Then the former Defence chief seemed to realise he might have spoken too early.

“I hope he's coming,” he said.

“I don't know - I'm not yet the governor-general.

“I think every Aussie who likes the idea of royal couples having their children with them on tour will hope that's the case, but let's wait and see.”

On a private trip to London with his wife, Lynne, the Cosgroves lunched with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh before meeting Australian media representatives at the Australian high commission.

"There's no constitutional requirement, but it is good manners, because you have a close relationship with the monarch and it's polite to just come and see the Queen before you assume [office]," he said.

Later in the afternoon, General Cosgrove met the Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House, where he was shown a collection of watercolours by Australian World War II artist Norma Bull.

He was in no doubt that, following many recent royal tours, Australians were extremely happy to welcome the royal family.

"There may have been a period where people thought that Australia's attention was wavering, but when the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visit and when Her Majesty visits ... and when the young princes visit ... the country comes alive ... There's a buzz in the air. And I think when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge come in April, Australia will roll out the welcome mat."

- with AAP