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Heavens open on Harry and Meghan as royal couple visit drought-hit New South Wales

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex brought the British weather, and some cake and tea, to a drought-hit area of Australia.

The couple wanted to get out into rural communities as part of their 16-day royal tour, and arrived in Dubbo in New South Wales, to hear about the problems faced by farmers after months without rain.

But Harry and Meghan, and the thousands who turned out to see them at Victoria Park, ended up getting caught in torrential downpours and thunderstorms.

Locals said they had not seen rain like it for about two years - and that such weather was almost as rare as having a royal visit.

Heavens open on Harry and Meghan as royal couple visit drought-hit New South Wales 0:27
Video: The Duke of Sussex gets a beard rub from a young Aussie

The heavens opened as Harry stepped out to deliver a speech at a community barbecue, but Meghan stepped in to hold an umbrella over him.

The Duke of Sussex said: "The rich traditions of the Australian outback are legendary. You have a lot to be proud of.

"But I know that life has not been easy. You have just lived through two years of drought. And despite recent welcome rain, it's going to take a lot more, and a long time, to recover.

"It must be hard not to lose hope when you endure so many dry months end on end - knowing that you are powerless to do anything about it."

Heavens open on Harry and Meghan as royal couple visit drought-hit New South Wales
Image: Harry and Meghan visit a local farming family, the Woodleys

Earlier in the day, the couple visited Mountain View farm, owned by the Woodley family.

For five generations they have been keeping cattle and sheep, but they have had to cut down on the number of animals they keep because buying in food for them is so expensive due to the drought.

The family showed the couple around and asked them to help feed the cattle.

Scott Woodley said: "They were very interested and felt very sorry for the struggle we've had over the last two years really - and they really wanted the other people of Australia to see the hard time we have been having."

Heavens open on Harry and Meghan as royal couple visit drought-hit New South Wales
Image: The Woodleys have had to cope with a ruthless drought

While recent wet weather has brought short-term relief, many more days and weeks of rain are needed to offset the effects of one of the driest years on record.

Many farmers fear for their livelihoods and are concerned they could lose their homes.

Figures released by the New South Wales department of Primary Industry show 98% of the state remains in drought.

Heavens open on Harry and Meghan as royal couple visit drought-hit New South Wales
Image: The royals also stopped by the Clontarf Foundation and the Girls Academy in Dubbo

Harry and Meghan were invited for a morning tea at the homestead and the duchess surprised her hosts by bringing along a banana bread she had baked herself at Admiralty House, where the couple are staying in Sydney.

The couple also brought some appropriately named Royal blend tea.

Elaine Woodley said it was a lovely and unexpected gesture.

"She made it last night when she heard she was coming to a family home, she had to bring a plate," she said.

Speaking to one of the family, Meghan did admit that she was feeling a bit tired after announcing she is pregnant - but said she was running on adrenaline.

In the afternoon, the duke and duchess visited Dubbo College.

They were meant to take part in a session of netball and touch football drills on the school oval, but heavy rain, thunder and lightning meant the original plan had to be abandoned.

Instead, Harry and Meghan appeared to freestyle it by setting up an impromptu line-up so the schoolchildren could meet them one by one.

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