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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Prince Harry and Meghan bring British weather to drought-stricken Australian town

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on a 16-day tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were jokingly thanked for bringing Britain's notorious wet weather to a drought-stricken Australian town on Wednesday in a rain-drenched visit to the Outback.

Meghan Markle brought banana bread that she baked in Sydney on Tuesday as a gift to a farming family outside Dubbo who were struggling to feed their cattle and sheep through two years of below-average rain.

The pregnant American former actress and her husband, Prince Harry, got their hands dirty throwing cotton seeds onto hay used to feed the cows because of a lack of pasture.

Heavy rain started falling when the royal couple arrived later at a park for a community picnic, but hundreds of cheering well-wishers remained enthusiastic.

The crowd laughed when Mayor Ben Shields said in a speech: "As your Royal Highnesses are aware, our region has been hit by a terrible drought. So we're very pleased that you can bring some of that English weather with you today, and hopefully it will bring some relief to the farming families."

While rain in recent weeks has been welcome, much more is needed to repair the economic and environmental ravages of the extended dry spell.

Meghan held an umbrella over Harry as he gave a speech, acknowledging the hardships the drought brought to the rural community and urging drought victims not to suffer in silence.

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The crowd applauded when Harry touched on his own mental health struggles following the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in a car crash in a Paris tunnel in 1997. He was 12 at the time. Harry, now 34, revealed in an interview last year that he did not seek counselling until he was in his late twenties.

"You are all in this together and, if I may speak personally, we are all in this together," Harry said. "Because asking for help was one of the best decisions that I ever made. You will be continually amazed how life changes for the better."

The prince ended by thanking Dubbo for its invitation and for sharing the stories, adding, "And the rain was a gift."

Harry and Meghan are on a 16-day royal tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.

The main focus of the tour is the Invictus Games, which start in Sydney on Saturday. The sporting event, founded by Harry in 2014, gives sick and injured military personnel and veterans the opportunity to compete in sports such as wheelchair basketball.