Royals admire nation ‘making own luck’: bumper gallery

• Catherine's tender encounter with Imogen

• South Coast woman's brush with royals

It was with reluctance the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge departed Australia on Sunday after their 10-day royal tour.

The couple praised Australia’s work ethic and quality of life, saying they leave reluctantly after a hugely successful family tour.

Prince William told a reception at Parliament House on Thursday that the visit had been just as pleasurable for young Prince George as his proud parents.

‘‘We go away with wonderful memories, and George goes away with his cuddly wombat, which he has taken to chewing so lovingly,’’ he said.

Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, who defied expectations to attend the reception in the same emerald green Catherine Walker dress she had worn earlier, sat on a podium behind her husband, flanked by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Mr Abbott praised the couple’s warmth and grace during the royal tour, noting that he had also long admired Prince William’s parents – he had ‘‘the sense of duty of your father and the passion of your mother’’.

He also noted their unrivalled celebrity power.

‘‘A couple of years back, Kelly Slater visited Manly, in my electorate. There were over a thousand screaming fans, as you’d expect when the world’s greatest surfer visited the world’s greatest beach.

“But as I have just seen with my own eyes, sir, ma’am, in Manly you are bigger than Kelly Slater, perhaps by a factor of 10.’’

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten received a round of laughter from the royal couple when he attempted to put old sporting rivalries behind Australia and Britain’s long relationship.

‘‘Regardless of whether the Lions or the Wallabies prevail, regardless of who holds the Ashes or takes home the most Olympic gold, you can be assured that you and all of the members of your family will be embraced in Australia with affection and respect.

‘‘Ours is no longer a relationship of need or dependence. Australia and Britain are partners in the world, and we greet each other as equals. We perhaps no longer look in Australia to Britain as the mother country, but certainly as our oldest continuous friend, and our relationship is stronger and healthier for this,’’ Mr Shorten said.

In his speech, Prince William paid tribute to Australia’s first peoples.

‘‘Catherine and I acknowledge the timeless values of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. They have been the custodians of this ancient and majestic continent for thousands of years. The traditional owners’ stories, and the magnificent and moving rock art at Uluru, which we saw for ourselves, are a priceless inheritance. They tell us not just about the past but provide a precious vision for the future.’’

He also commended Australia’s commitment to wildlife.

‘‘Catherine and I had the privilege earlier this week of visiting Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, which is committed, through conservation, to just such custodianship. And I know, too, how important Australian support has been for the global consortium, United for Wildlife, which is fighting the scourge of the illegal trade in wildlife, and poaching – something very close to my heart.

‘‘Australia has a quality of life and a level of excellence that makes it a magnet –  an enormously attractive place to live, trade, invest, and indeed just visit. 

‘‘The arts and sciences flourish. Australian sporting success is legendary. Agriculture – from the traditional to the technologically most advanced – is hugely successful.  This is a country that is in the front rank internationally.

‘‘We have both seen all this for ourselves. 

‘‘Australia may be known as ‘the Lucky Country’, but often the harder you work, the luckier you get. 

‘‘Australians make their own luck. The distinct Aussie formula that has fashioned such a dynamic society is the source of admiration and envy around the world.’’

The reception drew dignitaries from all fields: politics, religion, fashion, sport and entertainment.

Canberra’s diplomatic and bureaucratic elite were out in force.

INXS guitarist Kirk Pengilly and his wife, surfing legend Layne Beachley attended the event, as did Australian fashion designers Carla Zampatti and the Zimmerman sisters Akira Isogawa and Camilla Franks. 

Australian style-bible editors were there to soak up the atmosphere – Harper’s Bazaar editor Kellie Hush wore Camilla and Marc, while Vogue editor Edwina McCann wore Easton Pearson.

Australian Women’s Weekly editor Helen McCabe said the royal visit had given her magazine an ‘‘astonishing’’ circulation boost.

Former governors-general Peter Hollingworth and Michael Jeffery were in the crowd, as were High Court Chief Justice Robert French, Westpac chief executive Gail Kelly, United States Ambassador John Berry and rugby league great Petero Civoniceva.

Meanwhile, Australian War Memorial director and former opposition leader Brendan Nelson took time out from Anzac Day preparations to take part in the event.

Australia’s monarchy and traditions and mingling with the royal family had provided a ‘‘welcome distraction’’ from his biggest ever expected Anzac event on Friday.

It was with reluctance the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge departed Australia on Sunday after their 10-day royal tour.

The couple praised Australia’s work ethic and quality of life, saying they leave reluctantly after a hugely successful family tour.

Prince William told a reception at Parliament House on Thursday that the visit had been just as pleasurable for young Prince George as his proud parents.

‘‘We go away with wonderful memories, and George goes away with his cuddly wombat, which he has taken to chewing so lovingly,’’ he said.

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