UPDATE: Prince Charles has received a hero's welcome to Queensland's Lady Elliot Island, with tourists flocking to see the heir of the throne.

Holidaymakers visiting the small tropical island gathered near the grass airstrip this afternoon as the Prince of Wales arrived from Bundaberg.

He spent several minutes talking to the crowd, even joking with one group about how he hoped he hadn't ruined their holiday.

Prince Charles was then greeted by Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin.

Dressed in their trademark khaki shirts, they shared a laugh about how he was dressed in the same coloured suit.

Robert Irwin, a keen photographer, presented him with a canvas of a photo of a sea turtle he had taken.

The Prince of Wales then had the opportunity to hold a turtle hatchling, before he made his way to a round table with some of Australia's most prominent business leaders.

Executives from BHP, Qantas and LendLease have all gathered on the island for a round table discussion about how to better protect and save the Great Barrier Reef.

Prince Charles, a passionate conservationist, will later do a boat tour of the nearby island before he returns to Brisbane.


Joanne Williamson (AAP)

EARLIER: The Prince has given a heartwarming speech to the people of Bundaberg. 

His Royal Highness praised Bundaberg people for their resilience in adversity and disaster and talked of his admiration for the Australian spirit. 

He even made a couple of light-hearted jokes about the wind and the rum. 

Prince Charles and Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey with the Premier and Claire Whittaker, Royal Commonwealth Society chair.
Prince Charles and Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey with the Premier and Claire Whittaker, Royal Commonwealth Society chair.

This is his speech in full: 

Premier, Mr Mayor, ladies and gentlemen, before either the microphones blows away or the roof on this thing collapses I just wanted to say how enormously touched I've been by the incredibly warm welcome you've given me today in Bundaberg and to thank all of you for coming here to the distillery ... it's either for the rum or something else, I'm not sure and I certainly, after being here in 1994, having tasted the Bundaberg Rum back then, it's taken me, I'm afraid, all these years to come back for another tot and I'm thrilled that still this distillery's proving to be the one that produces some of the most famous and special of all rums around the world.

So again if I may say so, I realise that you've all been through some very difficult and painful times since I was last here with all of you and you've had the most awful experiences of floods and goodness knows what else and I just wanted to say that apart from the fact that I feel nothing but the greatest possible sympathy for all of you who suffered in so many ways or lost your property or it was damaged, I do hope that there's been a chance to recover and to become gradually more resilient against all these more intensive natural disasters.

I also wanted to pay a particular tribute to all those wonderful people in the emergency services and voluntary organisations who clearly make a huge difference in helping so many people to recover from these awful disasters but I do know, I do the Australian spirit and character is such that you are unbelievably resilient and somehow you've managed, regardless of what happened, and that is one of the great characteristics I've always admired ever since I first came here 52 years ago.

You don't change and you're just as wonderful.

Prince Charles introduced on stage : Prince Charles is introduced on stage, along with the Premier, Jack Dempsey and Claire Whitaker.

Member for Bundaberg David Batt said it was great to have the Prince in our city. 

"It was a fantastic experience for the thousands of locals that attended our home of the 'Great Aussie Spirit' - the Bundaberg Rum Distillery to see His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales," he said.

"As usual the event organisers at Bundy Rum did a fantastic job with some great local entertainment and was capped off with a very heart-warming speech from Prince Charles to the crowd."

1.26PM: one attendee said the Price has left the distillery. 

1.20PM: Prince Charles has given an impromptu speech to locals at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. 

A little girl all dressed up for the royal appearance.
A little girl all dressed up for the royal appearance.

1.10PM: Prince Charles and other dignitaries have been introduced on stage. 

The Premier, along with Prince Charles sporting some very smart sunnies and Royal Commonwealth Society chair Claire Whittaker were welcomed on stage by Trish Mears. 

The Premier with Prince Charles and Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey.
The Premier with Prince Charles and Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey.

1.05PM: The Prince is about to step up on stage. 

12.57PM: Could the Prince be taking a moment to blend his own rum?

The NewsMail's Hayley Nissen said "everyone is still waiting out in the sun in good spirits" for the Prince's speech.

She said wind had been playing havoc with some of the stands, which had been covered up. 

People line up to see Prince Charles : Crowds gather at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery.

12.43PM: A source at the scene says there have been cheeky whispers about getting His Royal Highness to blend his own rum which could then become available as the Prince of Wales blend. 

This has not been confirmed, but would surely be a hit with locals if it became reality. 

Crowds at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery.
Crowds at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery.

12.33PM: The stage is being swept and a cushion being placed on a seat for the Prince on the main stage as he prepares to address locals. 

The stage is made ready for the Prince.
The stage is made ready for the Prince.

12.28PM: Josh was Dalby was left shaking from his brush with royalty. 

"It was amazing, I've never seen a head of state before, let alone royalty," he said. 

Josh said he was originally from the Philippines and was blown away by the experience.

"I have a video of him shaking my hand, my right hand was a bit shaky and and I was so nervous, it was so great
I'll never forget my holiday, best holidays ever," he said. 

Josh from Dalby excited by royal handshake : Josh says he will never forget his holiday to Bundaberg.

Emma, 9, and Alyssa, 13, said they shook hands with the prince and it was good and he was "really nice".   It's the first time the girls had met someone famous.   

Emma and Alyssa talk meeting royalty: Emma, 9, and Alyssa, 13, said they shook hands with the prince and it was good and he was "really nice". .

12.23PM: Prince Charles is just about to make a speech at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. 

Locals share their experience with meeting Prince: Locals are buzzing after meeting the prince.

12.16PM: Locals are in full royal fever mode with the Prince's visit to the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. 

On a quirky note, a massive line-up has formed for sausages at the sausage sizzle. 

11.55AM: A Bundaberg man has told of his excitement at seeing the Prince in real life. 

"It's certainly different, you don't meet royalty every single day so it's certainly something special," Levi said. 

Prince Charles at the rum distillery.
Prince Charles at the rum distillery.

He said he had both his hands shaken by the Prince. 

Royal handshake excitement : Local ladies are super excited after shaking the prince's hand.

11.50AM: Prince Charles has arrived at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. 

He is joined by security staff and the Premier and has started greeting locals. 

Prince Charles arrives at distillery : Prince Charles arrives at distillery.

11.46AM: Local pollies are on the scene as they await the Prince's arrival. 

Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt and Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey join the Premier and MP David Batt in the list of pollies at the event.

Mayor Jack Dempsey at the rum distillery.
Mayor Jack Dempsey at the rum distillery.

11.43AM: The sun has started to come out as the clouds shy away as eager locals wait for a glimpse of Prince Charles. 

11.35AM: The Norville School Choir has just performed Waltzing Matilda. 

The choir performs as audiences await the Prince.
The choir performs as audiences await the Prince.

11.30AM: Prince Charles has just arrived at Bundaberg Airport on his Royal Australian Airforce jet and has hopped into a waiting vehicle, waving to crowds as he goes on his way.

MP Keith Pitt with QFES's Cameron Sage and Carrollyn Hennessy.
MP Keith Pitt with QFES's Cameron Sage and Carrollyn Hennessy.

The Premier is hosting the distillery barbecue and Member for Bundaberg David Batt is at the distillery. 

She is dressed in a royal purple outfit.

Premier arrives at distillery : Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk arrives at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery.

A man waiting to see the Prince told the NewsMail that there were now around 400 to 500 people waiting.

Prince Charles is expected to give a speech at the event. 

Crowds wait for the Prince to arrive.
Crowds wait for the Prince to arrive.

11.20AM: Four sisters are waiting to see the Prince, and it's not the first time they have seen him. 

The four ladies one spent months with the royal when he stayed at their farm in Victoria in his youth. 

Sisters spent months with Prince: Prince Charles spent time at the Tozer family farm in Victoria.

11.10AM: Excitement is building that Prince Charles may soon appear at the distillery. 

One little girl, dressed in a pink princess dress, told the NewsMail's Hayley Nissen she was waiting for the Prince as she showed off her best wave.

Little princess awaits royal visit: "I've never seen a prince, or a police," she told the NewsMail.

"I don't know," was her sweet response when asked what she would do when she saw Prince Charles. 

"I've never seen a prince, or a police," she said.   

A little princess waits for a royal visit.
A little princess waits for a royal visit.

10.50AM: The mother and friends of Bundaberg discus athlete Taryn Gollshewsky are among the crowd braving the rain.

Taryn's mum Tracey said Taryn would be competing at the Commonwealth Games on Thursday.

"It's very exciting," she said. 

Taryn Gollshewsky's mum Tracey and friends at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery.
Taryn Gollshewsky's mum Tracey and friends at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery.

"She's happy, that's the main thing. She had a good training session yesterday morning."   Prince Charles was on the Gold Coast yesterday for the Commonwealth Games that he opened the night before.  

Taryn Gollshewsky's mum waits for Prince: Taryn Gollshewsky's mum and friends gather to meet Prince Charles as Taryn trains for the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

10.47AM: Crowds are growing and it's getting jam-packed at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery.

Fraser Coast acoustic performers Jabaroo are now on stage. 

Megan and Bryane Cefai wait to meet the Prince.
Megan and Bryane Cefai wait to meet the Prince.

10.25AM: Patty Dexter doesn't mind waiting to meet the prince. 

The Bundaberg lady spoke to the NewsMail's reporters on scene at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery and shared her tale of why she's waiting in the rain to meet Prince Charles. 

"I sent Charles a card for his 60th birthday and I'll also send him one for his 70th birthday and on Camilla's birthday I sent her one and she sent me a lovely hand-written note and a letter back and a photo," she said.

Patty Dexter writes to the royals: Patty Dexter speaks to Hayley Nissen about writing to the royals.

Ms Dexter admits to being a real royal lover.

"Princess Beatrice, I just received a lovely hand-written letter from her, I sent her a congratulations for her engagement," she said. 

She's also written to Prince Harry.

Patty Dexter has written to royalty and has received notes back.
Patty Dexter has written to royalty and has received notes back.

A Bundaberg man waiting in the crowd told the NewsMail that more than 200 people were now waiting for a glimpse of the prince. 

Stalls at the event are showing off the region including turtle conservation, as well as our produce, he said. 

Gladstone woman Ellie Kyte made the trip from Gladstone to be at the event. 

Hayley Nissen on the scene: NewsMail deputy editor Hayley Nissen talks from the scene where crowds are gathering to wait for Prince Charles.

10.15AM: NewsMail deputy editor Hayley Nissen says hundreds are braving the rain to get a glimpse of the prince as they wait for him to arrive. 

Some are trying to shelter from the rain, while others are embracing the drizzle.

Young performers on stage: Bundy girls perform on the stage.

Those who are waiting are having their day brightened up by a performance by Hayley Wheeler and Ariana Brogden - two local girls who recently released an anti-bullying country rap fusion song online titled Those Words Can Hurt

Crowds gather at the airport to wait for the prince.
Crowds gather at the airport to wait for the prince.

9.47PM: The atmosphere is already building at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery as locals await Prince Charles's arrival. 

Crowds also gathered this morning at the Bundaberg Airport from around 9am as locals await the arrival of His Royal Highness.

SES is directing traffic and police motorbikes can be seen patrolling the area as locals flood in from different directions. 

One Bundaberg man awaiting the prince's visit said he was hoping to meet Prince Charles soon. 

"It's so exciting waiting for royalty in Bundaberg," he said. 

"They said the prince is expected around 11.45am."

The grey skies make for a very English day for the prince's visit. 

Hundreds line up: Hundreds of people line up at the distillery.