Last week, Court Circular reported that The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge talked to the Australian business owners and First Responders from Kangaroo Island to hear about how residents, wildlife and the local economy were affected when the island was ravaged by bushfires in January 2020. Today, we got a video of the call. Kangaroo Island is a small community off the south of Australia, who were impacted by devastating bushfires earlier this year. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge praised the efforts of all those who had worked to tackle the spread of the fire and protect the island’s residents in the most challenging of circumstances.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge heard from local business owners and first responders from Kangaroo Island 🇦🇺 a small community off the south of Australia, who were impacted by devastating bushfires earlier this year. pic.twitter.com/lYAAwsfEzM
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) October 1, 2020
January’s bushfires resulted in the loss of thousands of animals and widespread damage to their habitats on Kangaroo Island, which is one of Australia’s most important wildlife sanctuaries. Not only have the Island residents had to rebuild their lives from the wildfires, but they also had to manage to the spread of COVID-19, which has hugely impacted their desire get back to a normal life.
William and Catherine talked to five business owners and frontline responders – Dana Mitchell, co-owner of the wildlife park; Captain Mike Swayne, a Fire Service volunteer; Brigadier Damian Cantwell of the Australian Defence Force; Stephanie Wurst, a farmer who lost her home and farm infrastructure and Beekeeper Peter Davies who lost 500 hives of honey. From Daily Mirror’s report,
They cooed over koala Grace, now being cared for by a wildlife park, and appeared shocked as the sanctuary’s owner told them the population had decreased from 60-80,000 to an estimated 5-10,000 since the fires. Approximately 48 per cent of the island was affected by bushfires over the course of several weeks in January, leading to the loss of two lives and significant damage to residents’ homes and livelihoods.
The Duke spoke of his hopes that the couple could visit the area once the Covid-19 pandemic was under control and they were able to travel again.
Captain Mike Swayne, a Fire Service volunteer, told the Cambridges of how “hard going” the fires had been, saying he had been firefighting for 20 years and had never seen weather like it “It must have been terrifying,” said the Duke “How many of you were having to tackle this monster?”
Captain Swayne said he had come to see it as a “great example of humankind coming to aid others”, and praised his wife for her support in keeping his business running when he took four weeks off to volunteer firefighting.
“You had a good pair of hands helping you out, Mike,” said William, laughing as he replied: “She’s a good boss-lady.”
Speaking to Brigadier Damian Cantwell of the Australian Defence Force, the Duke said:”I think both Catherine and I would say to you, and Mike and your team, what a fantastic job you did and it sounds like some of the most difficult circumstances.
“I think you should be very proud of yourselves and how much effort went into this.”
Stephanie Wurst, a farmer who lost her home and farm infrastructure as well as half her livestock, told the couple it was a “pretty traumatic time looking back at it now” and said “we’ve had so much support”.
The Duchess asked: “How are your kids with it as well? [You’re] trying to manage this with their worries and their fear as well, how are they doing now?”
Continuing from The Mirror’s report,
Mrs Wurst said she had been surprised with how well they had coped, with help from their peers and school. The Duke said they were “really pleased to hear that your life’s rebuilding after what must have been a very difficult and traumatic few months”, adding “We’re really pleased to hear that you’re smiling again and you’ve got plans in place to rebuild.”
Beekeeper Peter Davies, who lost 500 hives of honey, said the world now had to learn from fires in Australia and California to better manage risks to communities like his. “There’s a lot we need to do globally as well to tackle this and to bring awareness to the problem,” the Duke agreed.
“Protecting the community is an essential part of this. It’s going to be rural communities who sadly bear the brunt of these issues around the world.”
Talking to the first responders and the business owners, The Duke of Cambridge said,
It’s fantastic to hear about the community spirit in Australia as always, which is what Catherine and I see when we come down there. Aussies are very good at looking out for each other and it’s fantastic to see that you’re all pulling together. Both Catherine and I are glad to hear that support is there for you all as well.
The mental health implications as well as the financial implications on everyone is going to take its toll for a while.
So I do hope all of you feel that you’ve got that support you’ve got someone you can speak to and somewhere you can go to receive support whether it’s financial or whether it’s just having a chat. Please do look after yourselves.
Hopefully Catherine and I when the world goes back to whatever normality we have in the future, we can come and visit you all and see kangaroo island for ourselves.
During the call, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were introduced to a cute Koala named ‘Grace’ by the vital care provider Dana, the co-owner of the Wildlife Park. Dana told the royals, “So this is Grace. She came in about a month ago now. She’s gaining weight pretty well and loves her bottle and pretty much sleeps all the time. The couple was all smiles when they saw the Koala on the screen. Leaning towards the screen, Prince William said, “She looks like she’s being very well looked after. Grace looks like she has a very nice life there.” From Daily Mail’s report,
Dana provided vital care to hundreds of animals harmed during the fires and spoke about how the Island’s wildlife was affected, including the devastating impact on its koala population, and the work that is being done to reintroduce rescued animals back into the wild and restore their natural habitats.
Approximately 48 per cent of Kangaroo Island was affected by bushfires over the course of several weeks, leading to the loss of two lives and significant damage to residents’ homes and livelihoods.
For the video call, The Duchess of Cambridge brought back her yellow Dolce & Gabbana Crepe Dress. A sartorial node to Australia as Yellow is national Aussie colour.
Catherine first wore the stunning dress to men’s finale of Wimbledon 2018. The vibrant yellow fitted crepe dress was described as, “Crafted from smoothing crepe, this knee-length style is perfect for warm-weather events – think the races, weddings and garden parties. It’s subtly darted through the bodice for a figure-hugging fit and finished with ruffled sleeves”.
In other news, Chris Ship from ITV reported that Buckingham Palace has decided to cancel all the royal events like Diplomatic receptions and investitures for the rest of the year due to the pandemic. Britain, just like many other countries, is facing the second wave of the novel coronavirus. I believe this is going to impact the Queen’s annual family pre-Christmas lunch too. We have already accepted that there won’t be any Christmas day church walk this year.