WINMALEE, Australia - Survivors of last year's devastating Australian bushfires met with Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate on Thursday as the royal couple visited the Blue Mountains.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are on a three-week tour of Australia and New Zealand with their baby son George, met some who lost everything in the fires which destroyed more than 200 homes.
"For them to come out all this way to say hello and say, 'I'm sorry this happened to you' ... it didn't seem like duty to them, it seemed like a pleasure," said Eartha Odell.
Kate, wearing a navy and white Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress and blue wedges, chatted with residents in one of the worst-hit streets in October's inferno, 80 kilometres (50 miles) west of Sydney.
"To not have any loss of life is incredible," she said inside the Winmalee Guides Hall, which is surrounded by blackened trees and where the couple met with residents who battled the blazes.
"I want to shake as many hands as I can," Prince William said. "Everyone."
Fiona Hillan, who lost her home in the disaster, said she had been impressed by the compassion shown by the duke and duchess.
"It is wonderful," she said. "It doesn't replace everything that we've lost, but it certainly helps the healing process."