Royal couple show animal attraction at Royal Easter Show

When the country came to town, it met the royals. And the royals met plenty of sheep. In keeping with a long tradition of royal tours to Australia, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Royal Easter Show on Good Friday morning.

The couple - who listened to description after description of grains, vegetables, crafts and merino wool grades - divided and conquered, spreading their star appeal as far as they could among the preserve makers, pumpkin polishers and beekeepers. Where William tried a hand-made chocolate, Catherine diplomatically opted for wild berry and macadamia nougat.

The duchess remained a beacon of serenity in her culturally spot-on Zimmermann dress and those ubiquitous wedges. A fail-safe approach from the duchess appears to be to ask a member of the public where they come from. Each and every producer and proud parent alike echoed the same sentiment: she seemed genuinely interested and down to earth.

Jessica Badman, 30, and her one-year-old daughter Alivia, from the Blue Mountains, presented the couple with a bouquet of red and yellow roses moments before their exit for Manly.

''I can't believe that just happened,'' an overwhelmed Ms Badman said. ''It's just like talking to a girlfriend, she's absolutely lovely.''

Theirs was one of many bouquets proffered. Scores of presents were pressed into the arms of royal minders and police, including half a dozen Easter eggs, baby clothes, fudge and tea. A trolley miraculously appeared to cope with the flow as the vast crowds of well-wishers passed books, Possum Magic and Peppa Pig toys, and bouquet after bouquet to the royal visitors.

The duke and duchess were shown around by Royal Agricultural Society president Glenn Dudley and his wife, Jennifer, and met NSW Major Events Minister George Souris for the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the Southee and Badgery Pavilion, a new home to the show's arts and crafts, fashion and style, and flower and garden displays.

The winning display, from the northern region, might have proudly displayed its soft alpaca wool, but Catherine had her eye on the light brown fleece for other reasons.

''The princess said [the duke] should put some on his head,'' said Lyn Cregan, 67, from Glen Innes. ''She pointed at him and said 'you need it more than me'. He laughed.''

And while Prince George may be third in line to the throne, the nine-month-old baby has the same taste as many an infant.

While admiring piles of root vegetables in the south-east Queensland display, Catherine told Diana Lisle that Prince George was particularly fond of sweet potatoes.

Never work with animals or children, the adage goes. There wasn't much hope of avoiding either at the annual agricultural celebration, and it was the Cox Pavilion that seemed to hold particular interest for William. The duke, who completed a 10-week course in agricultural management at the University of Cambridge last month, is understood to have requested to view the sheep shearing and chatted with two shearers as they tackled two of the 250 sheep that are sheared over the 14-day fair.

The royal couple bent to pat Fred the six-year-old ram, who had been taught to bow for the occasion.

Fred's owner, Jim Murray, from Wellington, said - not for the first time that day - the couple were ''absolutely lovely''. Wool from Fred's merino fleece went into a suit that was presented to the duke for his wedding.

''They fed Fred a piece of apple and were very impressed with his size and stature and how soft his muzzle was.''

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