Prince Harry Meghan Markle Northern Ireland Belfast holding hands, Mackage coat

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Belfast, Northern Ireland on March 23, 2018, two months before their wedding (Photo by Mark Cuthbert)

Prince Harry and his new bride, the former Meghan Markle, will embark on their first major royal tour some five months after their marriage at Windsor Castle. As per custom, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will go to Commonwealth nations, and specifically ones with the Queen as sovereign. Between October 16 and October 31, they will visit Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.

The timing and locations were not in doubt, as the Invictus Games are being held in Sydney from October 20 to 27. As Prince Harry founded the Invictus Games, and it was at last year’s games in Toronto that he and Meghan went public with their relationship, their attendance at the fourth games in Australia was all but guaranteed.

Prince Harry and Meghan’s tour

“Their Royal Highnesses have been invited to visit the Commonwealth realms of Australia and New Zealand by the countries’ respective governments. The Duke and Duchess will visit Fiji and Tonga at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office,” explained royal officials in the official press release. “The programme across these four Commonwealth countries will focus on youth leadership, environmental and conservation efforts – including the dedication of several new Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy projects – and the recovery and rehabilitation of servicemen and women through the Invictus Games Sydney 2018.”

AUSTRALIA

  • October 16 (Tuesday): Sydney
  • October 17 (Wed.): Dubbo
  • October 18 (Thurs.): Melbourne
  • October 19 (Fri.): Sydney
  • October 20 (Sat.): Sydney (the opening of the Invictus Games)
  • October 21 (Sun.): Sydney
  • October 22 (Mon.): Fraser Island

FIJI AND TONGA

  • October 23 (Tues.): Suva, Fiji
  • October 24 (Wed.): Suva
  • October 25 (Thurs.): Nadi, Fiji and Nuku’alofa, Tonga
  • October 26 (Fri.): Nuku’alofa and Sydney, Australia

AUSTRALIA

  • October 27 (Sat.): Sydney (the closing of the Invictus Games)

NEW ZEALAND

  • October 28 (Sun.): Wellington
  • October 29 (Mon.): Wellington and Abel Tasman
  • October 30 (Tues.): Auckland
  • October 31 (Wed.): Rotorua

While the full itinerary still has to be released, the tour, like all royal visits, will focus on the couple’s interests, especially youth groups, conservation, environmental concerns, empowering people through sports, and helping military veterans.

 

A huge trip, even by Google Map standards

The tour will be a whirlwind of plane trips, even after they take the 17,000 km flight from London to Sydney, Australia.

Sydney to Dubbo: 400 km

Dubbo to Melbourne: 830 km

Melbourne to Sydney: 880 km

Sydney to Fraser Island: 1,275 km

Fraser Island to Suva, Fiji: 3,500 km

Suva to Nadi: 115 km

Nadi to Nuku’alofa, Tonga: 860 km

Nuku’alofa to Sydney: 3,600 km

Sydney to Wellington: 2,250 km

Wellington to Abel Tasman: 340 km

Abel Tasman to Auckland: 1,000 km

Auckland to Rotorua: 225 km

The visit-only total is at least 15,275 km. 

Add in the return trip to London (another 18,300 km) and 17,000 km (the London to Sydney leg) and the grand total is more than 50,000 km.  In other words, more than 10,000 km longer than the circumference of the Earth.

CONCERNS

It will also involve travel in areas that have the Zika virus, especially Fiji and Tonga. The dangers of that mosquito-born virus are real. As the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers website states, “there is strong scientific consensus that Zika Virus causes neurological complications: Guillain-Barré syndrome (progressive muscle weakness that can lead to temporary paralysis) and microcephaly (decreased head size which may lead to developmental delays) in infants born to pregnant women infected with the virus.

For a couple like Harry and Meghan in their 30s who are likely considering having children, such travel can throw a wrench in any baby-making plans. As the IAMAT website states: “All travellers, particularly partners considering pregnancy, should practice safe sex or abstinence for at least 6 months if one or both partners have travelled to an area with risk of Zika virus transmission. Practicing safe sex is recommended even if you or your partner do not have symptoms. Most Zika virus infections are asymptomatic (show no signs or symptoms), but transmission of the virus to another person can still occur.”