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Queensland farmers who hosted Prince Harry in 2003 ‘respect’ he and Meghan after royal interview

Prince Harry tested the waters of a ‘normal life’ long before officially quitting the palace when he put on muddy boots and a cowboy hat to muster cattle in Outback Queensland.   

When Harry was just 19 years old – and third in line to the throne – he spent three months living on Tooloombilla Station farm in southern Central Queensland.

The prince chose the Australian Outback for his gap year, temporarily escaping the monarchy and pressures associated with being a member of the Royal Family back home in the United Kingdom.

While media and royal watchers at the time scoured the Sunshine State searching for him, Harry was treated ‘just like anyone else’ during his stay on the farm.

‘We couldn’t give a f**k who he was, we just wanted to have a drink with him,’ local bar manager Nigel Price said at the time.

And it appears the bonds formed on the farm are as strong as ever.

When Harry was just 19 years old – and third in line to the throne – he spent three months living on Tooloombilla Station farm in Central Queensland

His first public appearance during the private gap year was at Taronga Zoo, where he was pictured with a koala (pictured)

His first public appearance during the private gap year was at Taronga Zoo, where he was pictured with a koala (pictured)

After Harry and Meghan’s bombshell sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey aired on Tuesday, Tooloombilla Station manager told Daily Mail Australia he still has ‘a lot of respect’ for the couple.

He refused to go into detail about their friendship, or his opinion of the couple’s decision to step back from royal duties. 

‘I won’t make a comment out of respect for Harry and Meghan,’ he said.

‘We haven’t publicly spoken about Harry in the 20 years since he visited us and we won’t be doing so in the future.’  

After graduating from Eton, Prince Harry spent his gap year working as a jackaroo (also known as a cowboy) at Tooloombilla Station, a sprawling 16,000 hectare cattle property 150km northwest of Roma in outback Queensland.

The ranch was owned at the time by Annie and Noel Hill, who were friends of his late mother Princess Diana. Mr Hill’s father was a millionaire polo star who once coached Harry’s father, Prince Charles.  

Pictured: Pince Harry herding cattle as a 19-year-old on his gap year in Queensland

Pictured: Pince Harry herding cattle as a 19-year-old on his gap year in Queensland

Australians have, for the most part, always held a special affection for Harry, as they did with his late mother Diana

Australians have, for the most part, always held a special affection for Harry, as they did with his late mother Diana

Prince Harry spent three months mustering cattle and mending fences from 7.30am until 6pm at the station and earned the very unprincely sum of $212.63 a week. 

He visited local rodeos, paid his $10 entry fee, and sat on the grass as close to the action as he could while filming the bull riding competition.

Injune Rodeo president Jamie Johnson said Harry was invited to have a ride, but opted to watch from the sidelines instead. 

”He’s having a good time at Tooloombilla. He’s just part of the crowd – just a useless pommy jackeroo like all of them that come out,’ Mr Johnson said at the time. 

But Harry found time to jet around Australia to a few Rugby World Cup games to cheer on his beloved England, who memorably won the tournament following a dramatic extra-time win against Australia in the final.

‘I have had a great time working out here, meeting people and learning a bit about how to be a jackaroo,’ Prince Harry said in a statement at the conclusion of his trip.

‘And of course the rugby was absolutely fantastic. It’s a great country.’  

The couple sparkled during their first royal tour as husband and wife to Australia in 2018, winning over locals who already felt a special bond with the prince

The couple sparkled during their first royal tour as husband and wife to Australia in 2018, winning over locals who already felt a special bond with the prince

They visited Dubbo in western New South Wales where Harry reflected fondly on his time living in Queensland 'chasing cows through the bush and getting chased by countless bulls'

They visited Dubbo in western New South Wales where Harry reflected fondly on his time living in Queensland ‘chasing cows through the bush and getting chased by countless bulls’

There have long been rumours that Harry never relished his royal title as much as his older brother William, the future king.

Instead, he developed a reputation as ‘the party prince’ – often spotted drinking with gorgeous blondes and experimenting with alcohol and cigarettes in his younger years.

He admitted in a 2017 interview to having a ‘naughty streak’ that he ‘enjoyed’. 

‘[It] is how I relate to those individuals who have got themselves into trouble,’ he said. 

But he said that it was a ‘tricky balancing act’ and, particularly as a young boy struggling to deal with his mother Diana’s death, he ‘didn’t want to be in the position [he] was in’. 

Even during his stay in Australia, palace officials begged local media to give Harry space and privacy.  

Prince Harry also visited Australia again in 2015, where he spent the time getting to know fans

Prince Harry also visited Australia again in 2015, where he spent the time getting to know fans 

Australians have, for the most part, always held a special affection for Harry, as they did with his late mother Diana

Australians have, for the most part, always held a special affection for Harry, as they did with his late mother Diana

There were reports the prince contemplated cutting short his three-month Australian adventure when those pleas fell on deaf ears.

‘Learning about the farm and the jackaroo trade, that’s what he wants to do, not dodge the cameras,’ Prince Charles’ press secretary Colleen Harris said at the time. 

The world seemed to love him all the more for it, and after dating a slew of beautiful women, he appeared to settle down with Meghan, an American actress and divorcee two years older.    

The couple sparkled during their first royal tour as husband and wife to Australia in 2018, winning over locals who already felt a special bond with the prince.

They visited Dubbo in western New South Wales where Harry reflected fondly on his time living in Queensland ‘chasing cows through the bush and getting chased by countless bulls’.  

Pictured: Prince Harry in Australia in 2003

Pictured: Prince Harry in Australia in 2018

Harry has always spoken fondly of his time in Australia and has visited several times

But in the years to follow the visit, Harry again appeared to struggle with life as a working royal and in 2020 he and Meghan announced they would be stepping down as senior royals.

On Tuesday, a bombshell sit down interview between the couple and talk show host Oprah Winfrey aired detailing the reasons behind their departure. 

Harry admitted he was ‘trapped’ in The Firm and saw ‘no way out… until [he met] Meghan’.

‘I myself was trapped. I didn’t see a way out,’ he said. 

‘My father and my brother, they are trapped. They don’t get to leave.’

They also accused an unnamed Royal Family member of racism, suggesting the relative had asked ‘how dark’ their baby would be; said they had been driven out of Britain, in part, by racism; and accused the Palace machinery of failing to support a ‘suicidal’ Meghan.

Prince Harry meets 98-year-old Daphne Dunne outside Sydney Opera House. She held her hands to his face before sharing a hug.

Prince Harry meets 98-year-old Daphne Dunne outside Sydney Opera House. She held her hands to his face before sharing a hug.

Harry revealed an astonishing rift with his father, saying his family had cut him off financially while suggesting the Queen had been badly advised and had cancelled a meeting scheduled at Sandringham.

Meghan also accused her sister-in-law Kate of making her cry; suggested senior royals plotted to ensure Archie would never have a title or adequate security; and said officials had failed to stand up for the couple against ‘racist’ commentary, while lying to protect other royals.

The Palace released a statement on Wednesday which read: ‘The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.

‘The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members.’    

On Tuesday, a bombshell sit down interview between the couple and talk show host Oprah Winfrey aired detailing the reasons behind their departure.

On Tuesday, a bombshell sit down interview between the couple and talk show host Oprah Winfrey aired detailing the reasons behind their departure.


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