Daphne Dunne, Prince Harry’s 99-year-old Australian fan, dies

(SYDNEY) — Daphne Dunne, who was known around the world as a superfan of Prince Harry, has died at the age of 99.

She died at the Sydney Adventist Hospital on Monday, three days after her 99th birthday.

“It is with the saddest of hearts that I would like to share the news that our most beloved mum and nanna, Daphne Dunne, passed away peacefully yesterday morning,” Dunne’s family posted on Instagram.

“She spent a large part of her life representing the women of the Australian Army and her two husbands Lt. Albert Crowne VC MM and John Patrick Dunne, ensuring that their service to Australia was never forgotten.”

Dunne first met Prince Harry in 2015 when he was in Australia on a military secondment. At the end of his tour, he greeted well-wishers who had gathered outside the Sydney Opera House. Harry noticed her in the crowd as she was wearing her husband’s war medals, among them the prestigious Victoria Cross.

“I know what this is!” the prince reportedly said, to which Dunne replied, “Well, you should!”

The medal had been awarded posthumously to her first husband, Albert Crowne, who died in action in Papua New Guinea in 1945.

The pair bonded, and Dunne later told reporters that she had waited from dawn that day to meet Harry because she was so impressed by the work he does to support servicemen and women.

They met again when Harry returned to Australia in 2017 to announce the Sydney 2018 Invictus Games. At another event, this one in the pouring rain, Harry spotted Dunne in the crowd and rushed over to give her a hug.

Dunne described meeting Harry, as “absolutely wonderful.”

The final meeting for the prince and his Antipodean fan was last year, when he and his new bride, Meghan, were on an official tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga. Once again Harry found Dunne in the crowd of well-wishers outside Sydney Opera House.

Harry ran over to the then-98-year-old and knelt down next to her. He then beckoned his wife over.

“It’s fantastic. I’m so happy to finally meet you. I’ve heard so much about you — all good things,” the Duchess of Sussex told Dunne.

“I think it’s wonderful, the two of you,” Dunne replied.

She then gave some flowers to the Duchess, who thanked her and said, “Hopefully next time we see you we’ll have a little one with us.”

Sadly, this meeting was not to be, as Dunne died on April 1 after she was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. Just a few days before her death she had received a card from her royal friends.

“Dear Daphne, my wife and I send our warmest wishes to you on the occasion of your 99th birthday on Friday,” the card read. “Congratulations on reaching this important and impressive milestone before your centenary year next year. Happy Birthday Daphne. Best wishes, Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.”

At the time, her daughter told Australia’s Channel 9 News that “the card they’ve sent means so much,” but that her mother was “still very unwell.”

A few days later, Dunne succumbed to her illness.

The family concluded their Instagram statement with:

“It is fitting that Daphne passed away on the first of April as it is a month of renewal, remembrance and reunification with her loved ones that passed before her.”

ABC News understands that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be sending a letter of condolence to Dunne’s family.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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