In 2015, when Prince Harry reached out through a throng of fans to hug an elderly war widow in a wheelchair, Australia officially fell in love.
Not only did we swoon for the Prince, but Daphne Dunne became Australia’s most beloved royal fan, a force of nature who’d waited since dawn with an Esky of beer to meet her idol.
In 2017 it happened again, in pouring rain, when the prince spotted her in the waiting crowd during his wet and windy tour of Circular Quay.
And today, as Daphne Dunne, now 98, waited in her wheelchair outside the Sydney Opera House, royal watchers got their wish.
As the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made their way past hundreds of fans, a cheer could be heard when Prince Harry spotted Mrs Dunne. He leaned in to embrace her, providing a tender moment that only got better when he called over his wife to meet his number one fan.
The couple spent a few minutes talking to Mrs Dunne, who at one point put her hand on the Prince’s face, before his wife Meghan leaned in to kiss Mrs Dunne.
“I think it’s wonderful, the two of you,” Mrs Dunne said to the royal couple.
“I’ve seen your shoes, they’re very cool,” Prince Harry said “Have you dyed your hair a shade of pink?”
She kissed both the Duke and Duchess and gave them cards and flowers as gifts.
“I’m so happy to finally meet you. I’ve heard so much about you. All good things,” Meghan told Mrs Dunne. “Enjoy the rest of the day. Hopefully next time we see you we’ll have a little one with us.”
Mrs Dunne’s love for the prince was borne not from women’s magazines and tabloids, but his work with war veterans. In fact, it had been her first husband’s Victoria Cross medal, awarded posthumously, that caught his eye the first time they met in 2015.
The medal belonged to Lieutenant Albert Chowne, who died aged 25 in 1945 — just a year after they married — in a heroic attack on a Japanese machinegun post in the New Guinea campaign. Awarded posthumously for his bravery, Mrs Dunne had it pinned to her chest.
He said of the medal: “That’s what attracted me over here.”
“We were chatting for a little while and then they kept saying to him, ’We’ve got to go. We’ve got to go.’ He didn’t worry about that. He just continued on with what he was doing which was talking to me and then when he started to go, he gave me a kiss on the cheek,” she told The Today Show this morning.
Last year, Mrs Dunne once again caught the Prince’s eye as he greeted fans in the pouring rain at Circular Quay. Managing to spot her in her wheelchair, he reached into the crowd to speak to her.
“Oh, it’s you,” he said, and in a show of affection, leaned in and hugged Mrs Dunne.
Today, the 98-year-old was once again camped out to see the Prince, this time with his bride.
“I’m glad he’s got a wife now. And soon have a bubba,” she said.
The couple visited the Sydney Opera House forecourt today to watch a rehearsal by the Bangarra Dance Theatre before doing a walkabout on the forecourt to meet fans.
The Duke and Duchess’ Australian tour coincides with the Invictus Games in Sydney, which begin on Saturday and run for a week.
Prince Harry who served with the British Army for a decade, including included two tours of duty in Afghanistan, set up the Invictus Games after visiting the US Warrior Games in 2013, when he saw the positive impact sport was having on the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded servicemen and women.