Prince blames work pressure for brief Aussie visit

SYDNEY (AP) — Britain’s Prince Harry left Sydney bound for Australia’s west coast on Sunday, blaming work pressures for the brevity of a two-day visit Down Under representing his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II.

Harry, known in the British Army as Capt. Wales, arrived in Sydney on Saturday to celebrate the centenary of the fledgling Australian navy fleet’s first visit to the city’s famed harbor.

He described his Sydney experience as “absolutely fantastic” before boarding Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s jet on Sunday to fly 3,300 kilometers (2,050 miles) to the west coast city of Perth.

“It’s just … really sad that we’re leaving,” the 29-year-old royal told Nine Network television before boarding the jet. “Work — just can’t get the time off work nowadays.”

The Apache helicopter pilot and Afghan War veteran will visit the Australian Special Air Service Regiment commando headquarters in Perth before ending his first Australian visit officially representing the monarch.

On Saturday, the fourth in line to the crown chatted and shook hands with a throng of excited fans on the Sydney waterfront.

He had earlier coasted past the Sydney Opera House on board the Australian navy’s survey ship HMAS Leeuwin, one of dozens of warships from 17 nations on the harbor this weekend for the International Fleet Review.

The review, essentially a parade of ships, commemorates the arrival of the original Royal Australian Navy fleet a century ago.

Guests attending a reception for Harry at Kirribilli House, the prime minister’s official Sydney residence, had a commanding view of a 30-minute light show and massive fireworks display Saturday night.

An estimated 1.4 million people lined the harbor shores to watch more than 7 metric tons (7.7 tons) of fireworks explode from the decks of warships and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, as well as from floating pontoons.

About 40 warships, 16 tall ships and 8,000 sailors are participating in this weekend’s celebrations. The participating warships are from the U.S., China, Britain, Brunei, Micronesia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Spain, Thailand and Tonga.

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