Prince William hails 'front rank' Australia on royal tour

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Media captionThe duke and duchess visited the National Portrait Gallery and attended a reception hosted by prime minister Tony Abbott

The Duke of Cambridge has delivered a glowing assessment of Australia, describing it as an "enormously attractive place to live".

Speaking in Canberra on the latest leg of the royal couple's tour, Prince William said the country was a "magnet" for investors, traders and tourists.

He also praised his hosts' sporting prowess, flourishing arts and the role they played on the world stage.

"This is a country that is in the front rank internationally," he said.

The duke and duchess visited the National Portrait Gallery and the National Arboretum during a tour of the Australian capital on Thursday, and attended a reception hosted by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove at Government House.

Speaking at the event, Prince William said: "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.

"The distinct Aussie formula that has fashioned such a dynamic society is the source of admiration and envy around the world."

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Image caption The duchess receives flowers from three-year-old Wilhelmina Dreghorn during a visit to the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra
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Image caption The duke arrives at Parliament House in Canberra with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott
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Image caption Catherine receives presents as she greets the public after visiting the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra

Around 100 guests filled the drawing room at Government House, where the royal couple have been staying during their visit. The Duchess, who wore a Lela Rose cocktail dress, stood with her husband as the Governor-General gave a speech in their honour.

He highlighted the similarities between their tour and the tour of Australia by William's great-grandparents, the Duke and Duchess of York - who went on to become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

After the reception William and Catherine were entertained by award-winning indigenous Australian singer, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, and mingled with guests, who included leading musicians, Olympic athletes, fashion designers, decorated war heroes and politicians.

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Image caption William and Catherine attended a reception hosted by the Governor General Peter Cosgrove (right) and Lady Cosgrove (second right)
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Image caption The Duchess wore a Lela Rose cocktail dress and stood with her husband as speeches were given

Reflecting on a week in which they have visited Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, and the iconic landmark of Uluru, Prince William said there was "so much to admire" about Australia.

He added: "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."

The royal couple will join events to mark Anzac Day on Friday - a national day of remembrance for the nation's war dead, veterans and those still serving.

And the duke announced that he, Catherine and his brother Prince Harry would take part in events next year to commemorate the centenary of World War One's Gallipoli campaign that featured Australian troops.

The couple have also expressed their sadness at the sudden death of the Duchess of Cornwall's brother, Mark Shand, following a serious head injury sustained in a fall in New York.

Kensington Palace said: "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were saddened to learn this morning of the tragic death of Mark Shand.

"Their thoughts are with the Duchess of Cornwall and her family at this time."

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Image caption Prince William, Catherine, and their son Prince George will end their three-week tour of Australia and New Zealand after the Veterans Day commemorations on Friday

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