The stunning Lady Elliot Island, an Eco resort surrounded by the Barrier Reef where giant turtles pop their heads up from the waves and manta rays swim along the ocean floor, was the little piece of paradise that delighted Prince Charles today. The journey to the tiny island is about an hour and a half on a tiny plane flying over the Sunshine Coast.
Charles had wanted to visit the Barrier Reef to see the recent damage firsthand. A passionate conservationist, Prince Charles was participating in a forum of business leaders, politicians, scientists and not-for-profit groups exploring new ways to protect the reef. He specifically wanted to be involved in the high-level discussion and joined the round table.
The Weekly had flown on ahead and was there with the welcome group to greet the prince, and it was quite a party. The vacationers at the resort couldn't believe it when Prince Charles walked by and dressed in board shorts, swimsuits, and sarongs they shook the royal's hand.
Fully expecting him and extremely excited were Australia's conservation royalty the Irwin family — Terri and her children Bindi, 19, and Robert, 14. A starstruck Bindi said the future king was an inspiration. "He is amazing. He is a true wildlife warrior," Bindi said, with a nod to her late father, Steve Irwin. "He was so nice and so incredibly wise. He has so much knowledge. I wanted to take it all in."
(Photo Credit: Now to Love)
Bindi and Robert showed Prince Charles some newly-hatched baby turtles and photographer Robert then presented the royal with a mounted canvas of one of his photographs as a gift. It was a giant turtle taken in the waters off Lady Elliot Island.
Prince Charles has spoken out twice in the past six months about the threats posed to the Great Barrier Reef and other major coral reefs internationally, a situation he has called "catastrophic." He said companies or individuals who resisted environmentally-friendly practices often claimed it was "the end of the world."
"But you usually find there is life after death," Charles added.
Our family feels extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to meet with His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and other dignitaries today at Lady Elliot Island. We joined together to discuss important methods to protect the largest living structure on Earth, The Great Barrier Reef. We must work together to make a difference and protect these sensitive ecosystems for the generations to come. #RoyalVisitAustralia
The round table on Lady Elliot Island was convened by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and attracted corporate heavyweights including Lendlease CEO Steve McCann, BHP chief external affairs officer Geoff Healy, Star Entertainment Group chairman John O'Neill as well as Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority boss Russ Reichelt, top reef scientist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, and Queensland Environment Minister Leanne Enoch.
After the meeting, Prince Charles took a tour of the reef fringing the island through a glass bottom boat and marvelled at the coral and saw some coral trout. As he flew out the Irwin family waved furiously. Bindi's boyfriend, Chandler, would join the family later so she could show him some of the baby turtles. "He will love them," she told The Weekly.
Watch the video below to see the moment Prince Charles met the Irwin family:
This post was written by Juliet Rieden. For more, check out our sister site Now to Love.