Oz to Prince George: Come back soon. And bring your mum.
Holding a squirmy, slightly fussy baby prince, Duchess Kate and Prince William bid farewell to Australia on Friday and headed for London, wrapping up a smash-hit tour of Down Under that captured countless hearts and camera lenses.
Aussies and the rest of the world were treated to one last look at the 9-month-old future king, his glowing mother and proud father, also a future king, as the young royals waved from the top of the jet stairs in Canberra.
As Prime Minister Tony Abbott, among other officials, watched from the foot of the stairs, staffers scurried to load the Royal Australian Air Force jet with the royal couple's luggage, now much expanded thanks to the truckloads of gifts presented to them and George. Paparazzi snapped one man carrying that giant stuffed wombat that so delighted George.
Dressed in a red sweater and red seersucker shorts, the royal baby wriggled and squirmed in his mother's arms, as he has nearly every time he was glimpsed on the three-week tour of New Zealand and Australia.
He looked like he could use a nap, as he no doubt will get on the long (more than 24 hours) flight back to the U.K. Will joked that he wasn't looking forward to the flight since George tends to get grumpy on planes, according to The Daily Mail.
But his parents still looked remarkably fresh, despite keeping to an action-packed schedule with dozens of engagements over the past few weeks, including a solemn commemoration of Australian and New Zealand war dead on Anzac Day, April 25.
They return home very near like triumphant conquerors from an important, far-flung corner of the commonwealth, having done their best to ratchet up royal popularity Down Under.
If the mission was to introduce George to the world, introduce Kate to two enchanting countries William adores and, oh yes, bolster the monarchy in general, then mission accomplished.
"It's been one of the most memorable tours I have covered in 10 years of royal reporting & arguably one of the most successful in the last 30, and the couple have been bowled over by the extraordinarily warm welcome shown to them as a family by people everywhere they went," tweeted Rebecca English of The Daily Mail.
The last day, Day 19, started at dawn with a moving memorial service for Australian and New Zealand war victims, an annual commemoration that also included a parade march, a wreath laying and a service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Afterward, Will and Kate planted another tree, this one from a lone pine taken from the site of the WWI Gallipoli battle in Turkey, which started April 25, 1915, and continued until January 1916. More than 35,000 Aussies and Kiwis were killed or wounded, part of more than 250,000 casualties on both sides.
Because of the solemnity of the day, royal officials declined to tell reporters traveling with them what she was wearing. But the blogs that follow this closely, such as the American-based WhatWouldKateDo.com, suggested that her blue tweed coat was possibly by Katherine Hooker or Emilia Wickstead. Her navy felt hat was by Australian milliner Jonathan Howard, and her blue suede shoes were by Alexander McQueen.
She also wore a red poppy brooch (Europe's symbol of war remembrance) that had been given to her the night before by the wife of a Victoria Cross recipient.