February 25

Princes William and Harry sign condolence book

Prince William and Prince Harry have expressed their shock and sadness at the devastation caused by the deadly Victorian bushfires, according to an AAP report on 25 February carried in The Australian.  The Princes went to the Australian High Commission in central London to sign a condolence book for the hundreds of families affected by the blazes.  

They spent about five minutes discussing the fires with High Commissioner John Dauth, Consul-General Paul Ganly and acting Agent-General for Victoria Ian Marland before signing the book and meeting a large crowd of the commission's female staff. 

"Prince William and Prince Harry were deeply shocked and saddened by the forest fire disasters that have struck Victoria recently," St James' palace said. "They just wanted to pay their respects to the Australian people today and let those who have been tragically bereaved and others who have been left homeless know that their thoughts and prayers are with them." 

 Mr Dauth gave the princes yellow ribbons to wear on their suits in commemoration of the more than 200 people killed by the fires.  Prince Harry said he would wear his during the upcoming Ashes cricket series. 

The High Commissioner told the Princes how more than 100 people had signed the condolence book while many others had sent donations and letters of support.

 "They were interested to know what the current situation is and were alarmed, as are we all, by the further dangers of the fires in Victoria," Mr Dauth said. "Prince William said he assumed that (the donations and letters) were from expatriate Australians and he was surprised and I think pleased when I told him we had very many letters from British people.  

"I think they felt pleased they had been here and they felt part of the contribution the Royal Family has made to marking this sad time in Australia."

 AAP reported that Prince William also appeared to impress a group of about 15 “swooning” female members of the High Commission's staff as he stopped for a quick chat before leaving.  Ebonee Bailey-Gregory, from Hobart, was among those keen to catch a glimpse of the princes and said she found Prince William full of charm.

 "He asked if a lot of people had come through and if we were all Australians and if we knew people back home who were affected," she said.  

The visit by the Princes to the High Commission comes a week after their grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, signed the condolence book.  

The Queen has also made a private donation to the Red Cross appeal for bushfire victims and  sought daily briefings from the Victorian Premier, John Brumby.

The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, attended the National Day of Mourning memorial service in Melbourne, and visited some of the areas devestated by the fires.  


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