The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will carry out their first major royal tour together on the other side of the world.
Prince Harry and Meghan will be visiting Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific island states of Fiji and Tonga.
A statement from Kensington Palace confirmed: ”Their Royal Highnesses have been invited to visit the Realms of Australia and New Zealand by the countries’ respective governments.
“The Duke and Duchess will visit the Commonwealth countries of Fiji and Tonga at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”
No date has been given for the tour, but it “will coincide with the fourth Invictus Games – the event Prince Harry founded for wounded and injured military veterans”, says ITV News.
The Games, which start on 20 October in host city Sydney, also “hold extra significance for the royal couple; they made their first public appearance together at the 2017 Games in Toronto, Canada”, says CNN.
How will Meghan do on her first royal tour?
All eyes will be on how the former actor fares on her first trip as a fully fledged member of the royal family.
“With the Duchess of Sussex being from the US the concept of monarchy is a bit alien, so it’s been a great learning curve she has taken in her stride and managed incredibly well,” the Queen’s former spokesperson, Dickie Arbiter, told the Daily Express.
However, Arbiter says the royal tour down under will be a “litmus test” for Meghan which will challenge her like nothing else.
Arbiter, who worked for Buckingham Palace for 12 years, said: “She’s good at talking to people but it will be a real baptism of fire.
“They will have a very demanding schedule. The Duchess will have to get used to local customs with the eyes of the world on her. But no doubt she will come through with flying colours and they will show they will be a force for good for the Royal Family on the global stage.”
Thankfully she does seem to have one special fan in the Queen, with Arbiter noting the close relationship Meghan has already established with her grandmother-in-law, which was apparently evident during their joint trip to Cheshire in June.
Arbiter explained: “There seemed to be a tremendous rapport between them.
“A lot of laughter and that would give a clear indication that the Queen is very relaxed in her company and she will become relaxed in the Queen’s company.”
Will they be well received?
The Queen remains the Head of State in Australia and New Zealand, “and the younger royals are extremely popular in both countries”, says ITV News.
In the last Australian referendum on becoming a republic, in 1999, Australians voted to maintain ties with the British Monarch, with 54% in favour.
Following the announcement of the latest royal tour, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he was sure Australians would greet the newly-weds with “great warmth and excitement”.
“The Duke of Sussex has become a champion for war veterans around the world, including in Australia. His attendance [at the Games], alongside the Duchess of Sussex, will be a wonderful highlight for the more than 500 competitors and thousands of spectators,” Turnbull said in a statement.
Prince Harry and Meghan, who wed on 19 May, will be following in the footsteps of other royal couples.
Harry’s parents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, “toured Australia and New Zealand for the first overseas trip after their wedding”, says CNN. During that trip, Charles and Diana travelled 23,601 miles during a total of 41 days overseas.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have also toured Australia and New Zealand, in April 2014, when “they were away for 18 days, covering 23,701 miles”, reports the Daily Mirror.
And their reception in the Pacific islands?
The former British colony of Fiji, a Melanesian island group with a population of about a million, has been a republic since 1970. Neighbouring Tonga, with a population of just 106,000, is the only monarchy in the Pacific and is currently ruled by King Tupou VI.
Nevertheless, commentators anticipate a warm welcome for the British royals. Both island nations “are worried about the threat from rising sea levels caused by climate change and it is likely that the visit by the Duke and Duchess will highlight some of those concerns”, says ITV News.