Prince William and Duchess Kate to visit Australia to support areas devastated by bushfires: report

By Heather Cichowski

Duchess Kate and Prince William are expected to visit Australia to support the areas most affected by the devastating bushfires, according to reports.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to issue a formal invitation to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge this week, the Sydney Morning Herald says. Scott and the Cambridge household have reportedly been having conversations about the royal tour for weeks, and the invitation would be the next step in the process.

Kensington Palace has not commented on the reports of the possible Australia tour. However, officials are reportedly "very conscious that the Australian government and people have an awful lot on their plate which is more pressing," a source told HELLO! UK. So, it's possible there might be a delay in the formal announcement.

The aftermath of a bushfire is seen in Mogo, Australia on Jan. 15. Authorities say hundreds of buildings were destroyed in the town, which has a population of about 300, during bushfires in New South Wales and on the South Coast of Australia earlier this year. Photo: © Steve Christo/Corbis via Getty Images

PHOTOS: Duchess Kate and Prince William visit south Wales

William and Kate, along with many members of the Royal Family, have shown their support for the people and animals affected by the bushfires in Australia. In January, they released an emotional statement on Instagram.

Duchess Kate gives Prince George a toy bilby during a visit to the Bilby Enclosure at Taronga Zoo in Sydney in April 2014 during their three-week royal tour. Photo: © Chris Jackson/Getty Images

"We continue to be shocked and deeply saddened to hear about the wild fires that are destroying homes, livelihoods and wildlife across much of Australia," it read. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all the people and communities who are affected by this devastating event.

"We send our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who have tragically lost their lives, and the brave firemen who continue to risk their own lives to save the lives of others."

Prince Charles, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan have also expressed their sadness and solidarity for Australia. The Prince of Wales shared a video on Instagram on Jan. 7 about the impact of the bushfires.

According to Australia's 9 News, of Jan. 14, Australia's bushfires were estimated to have destroyed about 17 million hectares of land, or about 170,000 square kilometres. More than 2,100 homes were destroyed in the blazes, The Canberra Times reported. In late January, The Guardian wrote that least 34 people lost their lives in the blazes.

Just this week, an Australian federal government analysis estimated 113 animal species also "need urgent attention" due to the bushfires and have had "at least 30 per cent of their range burnt," according to The Guardian. Some of those species were already listed as threatened, while others weren't. More than 1 billion animals are estimated to have been killed in the fires, and some species may have gone extinct as a result, according to a University of Sydney expert.

Kate and William have toured Australia on a few different occasions. In April 2014, they brought young Prince George Down Under on his first royal tour. Prior to that, William embarked on a solo royal tour of Australia in March 2011 before he and Kate married. He also visited Australia and New Zealand to see areas devastated by flooding following Hurricane Yasi and the Christchurch Earthquake.

G'day! Prince William in Brisbane with Australian musician Troy Cassar-Daley in March 2011. Photo: © Marc Grimwade/WireImage

It's not known if the duke and duchess would bring their George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis on this potential new tour.

It seems the Cambridges are set to have a busy schedule. The pair joined Charles and Duchess Camilla in a rare joint engagement on Feb. 11 in Loughborough to visit the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre.

On the same day, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced they will tour Ireland from March 3 to 5.

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