The Palace said: "There is a long history of friendship between The Royal Family and Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand, and their links with the UK are extensive. The Duke and Duchess are very much looking forward to experiencing the unique cultures and customs of these four Commonwealth countries, and have asked that this tour allow them opportunities to meet as many Australians, Fijians, Tongans and New Zealanders as possible. Together they look forward to building an enduring relationship with the people of the region." Omid Scobie revealed the royals will travel with private secretary Samantha Cohen; the Queen's former assistant private secretary is Australian and the ideal aide to guide the Sussexes. They will also be joined by deputy private secretary Amy Pickerell, who has been by Meghan's side since the engagement announcement; three communications officers, a programme coordinator, orderly, personal assistant, digital officer and hairdresser.
More from the Kensington Palace press release:
'Across this sixteen day tour, Their Royal Highnesses' programme will focus on youth leadership, and projects being undertaken by young people to address the social, economic, and environmental challenges of the region. The Duke is particularly keen to highlight these youth-led initiatives in his new role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, and to shine a light on the work and aspirations of young people across the Commonwealth.
The visit will also concentrate on environmental and conservation efforts, from engaging the local community in forest protection schemes in Colo-i-Suva, to the promotion of sustainable tourism on Fraser Island. The Duke and Duchess will dedicate a number of projects to The Queen's Commonwealth Canopy in each country, learning more about local conservation initiatives, whilst visiting some of the region's most beautiful landscapes.
A major focus for Their Royal Highnesses will also be the Invictus Games Sydney 2018. The Duke and Duchess are excited to see Sydney fully embrace the Invictus spirit, and to support the competitors as they compete across a range of sports at some of the city's most iconic venues. This year's Games will emphasise the integral role played by servicemen and women's family and friends, and Their Royal Highnesses will spend time with a number of the competitors' supporters as they cheer them on from the side-lines.'
Let's take a look at the very exciting itinerary!
Tuesday, 16 October
The tour kicks off in Sydney on Tuesday, 16 October, with several engagements planned. They begin at Admiralty House, the official Sydney residence of the Governor-General of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove and Lady Cosgrove, who will welcome them to his home which offers spectacular views across Sydney Harbour. Representatives from each of the eighteen countries who are participating in the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 will be present.
The Duke and Duchess will then travel to Taronga Zoo to officially open the new Taronga Institute of Science and Learning. During this visit, Harry and Meghan will meet two koalas and their joeys that are part of the zoo’s breeding programme, and visit the laboratory to meet female conservation scientists who are working on efforts to reduce illegal wildlife trafficking. A number of readers will recall the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge brought nine-month-old Prince George to the same zoo during their 2014 tour.
Afterwards, the Duke and Duchess will travel by vessel across Sydney Harbour to Sydney Opera House. They will view a rehearsal of Spirit 2018 by the Bangarra Dance Theatre, an internationally acclaimed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander modern dance company. Upon departure, walking along the Opera House forecourt, the Duke and Duchess will have an opportunity to meet members of the public. Since their engagement, meeting as many people as possible has been a priority for the pair; we can expect to see that continue throughout the tour.
The first day concludes with a reception hosted by the Governor-General at Admiralty House, to be attended by Australians from a broad range of sectors including charity and community, business and industry, arts and culture, sport and entertainment.
Wednesday, 17 October
On day two of the tour, Harry and Meghan will fly to the town of Dubbo, situated on the Macquarie River, 300 kilometres northwest of Sydney. On arrival in Dubbo, the Duke and Duchess will visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service to learn more about the life-saving role the aviation service provides for people living in rural and regional areas.
The Palace added:
"With most of the state of New South Wales suffering from drought, Their Royal Highnesses will see first-hand the hardships local farmers are facing by visiting a local property. The Duke and Duchess will then travel to Victoria Park to join people from Dubbo and surrounding areas at a picnic in the park to celebrate community spirit within the region. Members of the public are invited to attend, and Harry will give an address.
In the afternoon, The Duke and Duchess will visit a local school working to improve the education outcomes of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Students will open up their classrooms to present their work and participate in a session of netball and touch football drills on the school oval, highlighting the importance of sport in education."
Thursday, 18 October
Harry and Meghan will fly to Melbourne where the day will begin with a short walk to Government House, meeting members of the public along the way, before attending an official reception at Government House. A diverse group of young Victorian leaders and community members will attend the reception, including Queen's Young Leader Hunter Johnson from the Man Cave. A demonstration of various sporting activities will take place in the grounds, with ambassadors from the This Girl Can campaign. The campaign was developed by Sport England to promote sport amongst women.
Next, the Duke and Duchess will visit a social enterprise café which offers leadership, mentoring and training programmes for young Aboriginal people. In the afternoon, the Sussexes will visit a primary school to meet students who are involved in sustainability programmes. Upon departure from the school, they will travel on an iconic Melbourne tram to South Melbourne beach, where they will meet volunteers from a local beach patrol programme. They will learn about efforts to keep Port Phillip Bay beaches and foreshores clear of litter to reduce the negative impact on the marine environment.
Friday, 19 October
Day four of the tour will see Harry and Meghan return to Sydney. In the morning, they will visit Bondi Beach, one of Australia’s most famous landmarks. The Duke and Duchess will meet a local surfing community group, known as OneWave, raising awareness for mental health and wellbeing in a fun and engaging way. Their Royal Highnesses will take part in the "Fluro Friday" session, where people of all ages share their experiences of mental health issues, and will have the opportunity to interact with others enjoying yoga and surfing. Before departing, the Duke and Duchess will have an opportunity to meet members of the public gathered on the beach.
Next, they will take part in a youth advocate programme that aims to unite and inspire young people to be advocates for cohesion and inclusion in their communities. The couple will also engage with students as they discuss issues including social justice and youth empowerment. Following this event, accompanied by the Prime Minister the Honourable Scott Morrison MP and Invictus Games competitors, Harry will climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge to officially raise the Invictus flag, marking the arrival of the Invictus Games to Sydney.
They will conclude the day with calls on the Leader of the Opposition at Admiralty House, and the Prime Minister at Kirribilli House.
Saturday, 20 October
Saturday, 20 October is all about Invictus! The Duke and Duchess will travel by boat to attend the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge on Cockatoo Island. In the evening, they will attend a Reception hosted by the NSW Premier, the Honourable Gladys Berejiklian MP, inside the Opera House. The day will conclude with the Invictus Games opening ceremony, which will take place on the forecourt of the Opera House. ABC will broadcast the opening ceremony live on ABC 1 across Australia and internationally through live streaming. Below, the official uniforms for staff and volunteers.
Sunday, 21 October
Harry and Meghan will watch some elements of the Invictus Games, including cycling and sailing, and attend a lunchtime reception hosted by the Prime Minister of Australia, with Invictus Games competitors and representatives from the community in the city’s central parkland, the Domain.
Monday, 22 October
The next stop on the royal tour is Queensland's Fraser Island, or K’gari as it's known by the Traditional Owners, the Butchulla people, as part of the dedication of the site to the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy. The Duke and Duchess will be met upon arrival by the Traditional Owners of K'gari, the Butchulla People and the Premier of Queensland. They will take part in a traditional Welcome to Country Smoking Ceremony and unveil a plaque for the dedication of the Forests of K’gari to the QCC. Traditional Owners from Bulburin National Park, the second QCC dedication site in Queensland, will also be present. Fraser Island rainforest is home to the island’s satinay trees which, known for their hardiness in water, were used to build the London docks in the 1930s.
The Duke and Duchess will then visit one of Fraser Island’s iconic lakes to meet with local elders and national park rangers to learn about the island’s natural beauty, rich history, biodiversity and cultural significance. From here, they will travel to the beach to learn about the history of the island’s logging trade, as well as its use as a training base for the Australian Z Special Unit during World War II. They will then travel to Kingfisher Bay by boat, where the visit will conclude with a walk along the picturesque Kingfisher Bay jetty. The day promises to be produce stunning photos.
Tuesday, 23 October
The following day, the Duke and Duchess will travel by charter flight to Fiji's capital Suva, where they will embark on a three-day programme, experiencing the rich Fijian culture and generous hospitality. On arrival, the Duke and Duchess will be greeted by a guard of honour at the airport, before calling on His Excellency the President of Fiji at Borron House. The Duke and Duchess will then attend an official welcome ceremony in the city centre's Albert Park. The ceremony, known as the Veirqaraqaravi Vakavanua, embodies Fijian cultural identity and heritage, and will mirror in format that of the one attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1953. It will involve a number of traditional elements of Fijian culture, including dance performances, the presentation of the tabua, and a kava ceremony. Members of the public from across Suva will be invited to attend.
Below, the Queen receiving a bouquet of Fijian flowers from Adi Kaunilotuma, a Fijian princess. The Princess wore a dress bearing the Royal Crown motif.
From there, the Duke and Duchess will leave Albert Park for the Grand Pacific Hotel to attend a reception and a State dinner hosted by the President of Fiji.
Wednesday, 24 October
Harry will lay a wreath at the Fiji War Memorial, and meet a number of Fijian war veterans, some of whom served with the British Armed Forces. Links between the British Military and Fiji continue to this day with more than 1,250 Fijians currently serving in the British Army. The royals will then visit the University of the South Pacific campus in Suva, where they will observe a cultural performance on the effects of climate change, before meeting students studying subjects from agriculture to women’s development. The event will be streamed to a number of the university's campuses throughout the Pacific region. The Duke will make a short speech in his capacity as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, and the Duchess will say a few words.
The Palace added:
'From there Harry and Meghan will split and carry out separate engagements – Prince Harry will travel to Colo-i-Suva Forest Park, and The Duchess to the British High Commissioner’s Residence. Colo-i-Suva is an indigenous forest site housing many flora and fauna native to Fiji, and species including the Fiji Tree Frog. It is also Fiji's dedication to The Queen's Commonwealth Canopy. Before unveiling a plaque to mark its dedication and planting an endangered native tree, Harry will meet with school children, student conservators, representatives from sustainable tourism industries, and local landowners and villagers to see how the rainforest impacts upon their education and livelihoods.'
Meanwhile, Meghan will attend a morning tea at the British High Commissioner’s Residence to showcase women's organisations which operate throughout Fiji. In particular, the Duchess will hear more about a UN Women's project, 'Markets for Change', which promotes women's empowerment in marketplaces throughout the Pacific. Meghan served as an ambassador for UN Women and the day ties in very well with her interests. The Duchess will then travel to Suva Market to meet some of the female vendors who have become empowered through the project.
"The engagements have been chosen by the host countries, taking into account Meghan's passion for gender equality. "It's her first tour. It's all very new and quite daunting in terms of the choice (of engagements), Fiji asked the Duchess to do those events. There's a movement in Fiji to encourage women to move away from the stereotypical roles of cooking and looking after children."
Thursday, 25 October
The Duke and Duchess will travel to the city of Nadi in Western Fiji, where they will attend a special event at Nadi Airport. After an official welcome ceremony, the Duke and Duchess will unveil a new statue commemorating Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba, a British-Fijian soldier who lost his life in the 1972 Battle of Mirbat. The event will be attended by the President of Fiji, and senior representatives from government and the Armed Forces.
From Nadi Airport, Their Royal Highnesses will take a chartered flight to Tonga, where they will be met at Fua'amotu Airport by Her Royal Highness the Princess Angelika Latufuipeka. That evening, the Duke and Duchess will visit Consular House in central Nuku'alofa for a private audience with His Majesty King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipauʻu, to be followed by an official reception and dinner, and traditional Tongan entertainment.
Friday, 26 October
The Duke and Duchess will visit the St George Building for a call on the Prime Minister S. Akilisi Pohiva and members of the cabinet. From there, they will attend an exhibition with the Princess Angelika at the Faonelua Centre, celebrating Tongan handicrafts and products, including traditional mats and 'tapa' cloth. The couple will also have the opportunity to meet local Tongan traders and craftsmen.
The Duke and Duchess will then travel to Tupou College, which is the oldest secondary school in the Pacific, founded by a British missionary in 1866. They will dedicate two forest reserves at the school's on-site forest, the Toloa Forest Reserve, the last remaining forest area on Tonga’s main island of Tongatabu, and the Eua National Park Forest Reserve, located at the Island of Eua – to the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy. The Tupou College Boys will perform traditional Tongan music to commemorate the event.
From Tupou College, the Duke and Duchess will travel to the Royal Palace for an official farewell with the King before departing for Sydney. That evening in Sydney, Harry and Meghan will attend the Australian Geographic Society Awards, an annual gathering of Australia's brightest and best in exploration, science and conservation. They will present youth awards to honour the highest achievements in conservation and adventure.
Saturday, 27 October
The Duke and Duchess will spend the afternoon at the wheelchair basketball finals at the Quay Centre, before attending the Closing Ceremony that evening at Qudos Bank Arena. The event, at which both the Duke and Duchess will speak, promises to be a celebration of the outstanding achievements and inspiring spirit of Invictus Games competitors. Last year, Meghan, Doria and friends attending the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games. One year later, as a member of the Royal family, she will very fittingly deliver a speech.
Sunday, 28 Ocotber
The final leg of the tour will see the couple travel to New Zealand for several days of exciting engagements. They will join a number of Invictus competitors on a Royal New Zealand Air Force flight to Wellington. They will be met off the plane together by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Harry and Meghan will attend the traditional welcome ceremony on the lawns of Government House – the residence of the Governor-General to New Zealand Dame Patsy Reddy. They will be invited to hongi with the Governor-General’s kuia and kaumātua (Māori elders), before the pōwhiri, which includes a haka performed by members of the New Zealand Defence Force. The ceremony will also include a 21-gun salute, and will be attended by school children.
They will then travel to the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. Here, they will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, and will visit the newly unveiled UK War Memorial – whose design takes the form of two of the United Kingdom and New Zealand’s most iconic trees – the Royal Oak and a pōhutakawa. This engagement will be followed by a public walkabout in Memorial Park.
That evening, the Duke and Duchess will receive official calls from the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition at Government House, before attending a reception hosted by the Governor General celebrating the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. A Palace aide told Hello!: "New Zealand has hosted very very many royal visits and they offered up these engagements and the Duchess thought they were all very good. New Zealand has a strong tradition of female empowerment and it's the 125th anniversary of suffrage and they happen to be there for the anniversary of a historic time."
Monday, 29 October
The next morning, the Duke and Duchess will visit Maranui, one of Wellington’s most iconic cafes. They will meet young people from a number of mental health projects operating in New Zealand offering support to other young people through helplines, social media, websites and school-based programmes. From Wellington, the Duke and Duchess will travel to Abel Tasman National Park, which sits at the north-eastern tip of the South Island, and is an area famed for its golden beaches and native bush walks. Their Royal Highnesses will be greeted by a traditional welcome ceremony on arrival, before embarking on a trail walk with one of the park's rangers to learn more about the history of the forest and the environmental challenges of protecting the park's habitat. Before departing, the Duke and Duchess will join some of the park's young ambassadors and local school children at a barbecue lunch and for a tree planting.
That evening back in Wellington, Harry and Meghan will visit Courtenay Creative for an event celebrating the city’s thriving creative arts scene. Courtney Creative runs programmes to give young people the tools and experience to excel in the film industry, and the Duke and Duchess will meet a number of young creatives demonstrating their skills in props, make-up, and costume. The engagement is a very nice nod to Meghan's acting career.
Tuesday, 30 October
The penultimate day of the tour will see the Sussexes travel to Auckland, where they will first visit the North Shore to dedicate a 20 hectare area of native bush to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy. After unveiling the plaque, the Duke and Duchess will hear more about the ecological importance of the native bush, before joining children from the 'Trees in Survival' group in a ‘welly-wanging’ contest.
They will then join the Prime Minister to visit Pillars, a charity operating across New Zealand that supports children who have a parent in prison through the provision of special mentoring schemes. As a wedding present to the Duke and Duchess, the Government of New Zealand gifted $5000 dollars to Pillars, and Harry and Meghan will have the opportunity to meet some of the children who have directly benefitted from this funding.
Later that afternoon, the Duke and Duchess will have the opportunity to meet the people of Auckland on the Viaduct Harbour, before attending a reception hosted by the Prime Minister at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. This reception will include cultural performances and entertainment by members of the Pasifika community living in Auckland. The guests will be predominantly young people in the 17 to 25-year age group who are making significant contributions to the wellbeing of their communities, representing the future of New Zealand.
Wednesday, 31 October
The final day of the tour will take place in Rotorua, a town set on Lake Rotorua, renowned for its geothermal activity and Maori culture. The Duke and Duchess will first visit Te Papaiouru Marae, for a formal pōwhiri and luncheon in Harry and Meghan's honour.
Next, the Duke and Duchess will head to Rainbow Springs to learn more about the centre’s kiwi breeding programme. Kiwis, which are New Zealand’s national bird, have become increasingly endangered in recent years, and Their Royal Highnesses will meet conservationists working to protect the species. They will also have the opportunity to name two young kiwi chicks at Rainbow Springs.
Later that afternoon, the Duke and Duchess will head into the city for the chance to meet members of the public gathered there. They will then travel to Redwoods Treewalk Rotorua. The treewalk is a 700m-long walkway of suspension bridges between 117-year-old Redwood trees. The forest is also the home to a thriving mountain biking community that draws people of all ages to the Redwoods. The Duke and Duchess will learn more about the forest’s history as they take on the tree walk, and will then meet invited representatives of the local biking community under the forest canopy.
Harry and Meghan will return to Auckland that evening, before departing for London the following day.
My goodness, it's certainly quite the itinerary, isn't it? The schedule marries several of the couple's key interests, with their roles as Commonwealth ambassadors, representatives of the Queen and a key interest in highlighting all four of the countries they will be visiting. Meghan's first Commonwealth tour is going to be a huge undertaking and an unforgettable experience. I'm very excited to see the inclusion of her interest in women and girls and of course hearing her speeches. It's undoubtedly going to be a terrific sixteen days. Are you looking forward to it? :)
Over the next week, we'll be looking at Royal Collection jewellery possibilities and designers we could see the Duchess wearing! :)