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Sydney tipped to host William, Kate and baby George

Date

Tim Barlass

Looking for a place to stay: Kate and William with Prince George.

Looking for a place to stay: Kate and William with Prince George. Photo: Getty Images

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their baby, Prince George, are expected to be based in Sydney for their first tour since the royal birth in July.

Just over 30 years since Princess Diana and Prince Charles visited Australia with their baby William, an advance party of royal aides will arrive in Sydney this month to finalise precise details of the expected month-long itinerary.

One key issue is secure accommodation where the then nine-month-old Prince George, third in line to the throne, can be cared for while the royal couple meet what is likely to be a gruelling program.

Several sources say it is inconceivable Prince George would not accompany his parents, although this has yet to be confirmed by Clarence House.

An insider said: ''We have been told that Sydney will be the base but I don't know how extensively they will be travelling.

''We are assuming that Prince George will be coming. That is what we are gearing up for.''

Charles and Diana set something of a precedent when they undertook a royal tour to Australia and New Zealand in 1983, when William was slightly younger than Prince George will be.

The royals made their base at the Woomargama homestead near Albury, the private residence of BHP director Gordon Darling and wife, Margaret, who worked for the National Trust.

Security at the property was tight and Prince William is said to have taken his first steps within the confines of the homestead, which had also been used as a bolt hole in November 1973 by Ronald and Nancy Reagan when he was governor of California.

Mr Darling's daughter Clare Cannon, who is still at the property, said the Reagan precedent showed using the homestead could work.

''Someone from Wagga made a cot for Prince William which we still have and which was used during the time he was there,'' Ms Cannon said.

''All my children have slept in it. It was a big deal, Princess Diana did go down and speak with people in the village and shake their hands. People felt that she was warm and the village was very excited.''

Asked if it was possible that the property could be used again, she added: ''I don't know. I have no idea what their plans are, we haven't heard anything. It is highly unlikely, I would say.''

Valentine Low, royal writer on The Times in London, said he thought a similar arrangement might be adopted for this visit.

''William and Kate are very keen to protect their privacy and also that of George and they will probably allow George to be seen once or twice, as Charles and Diana did with William,'' Low said.

''Apart from that, he'll be kept somewhere out of the public eye.''

Little has been seen of Prince George. William and Kate attended the traditional Sandringham Christmas Day service but the thousands who turned out for a glimpse of the baby were disappointed. The Duchess of Cambridge told one well-wisher the five-month-old was at home ''enjoying his first Christmas''.

Demand for new pictures of the baby is expected to generate a large media presence for the Australia visit.

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