Australian war widow who kissed and hugged Prince Harry during his royal visits – dies at age 99



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Australian widow Daphne Dunne – who won the heart of Prince Harry during her royal visits to Down Under – died at age 99 just days after receiving a birthday card from the Duke of Sussex and Meghan Markle.

Dunne's daughter revealed on her mother's birthday last week that she was suffering from long pneumonia, but that royalty helped her through difficult times.

Unfortunately she passed away surrounded by her family on Tuesday.

Prince Harry saw for the first time a replica of Victoria Cross fastened on Mrs. Dunne at the Sydney Opera House, after he completed his deployment with the Australian Defense Force in 2015.

They met again in 2017 during a rainy Invictus Games launch event before Harry introduced Dunne to his new wife, Meghan Markle, outside the Opera House during their visit to Sydney last year.

When Harry met Daphne: Prince Harry meets the wartime widow Daphne Dunne, then 98, near the Sydney Opera House. She received a personalized card from him for her 99th birthday

When Harry met Daphne: Prince Harry meets the wartime widow Daphne Dunne, then 98, near the Sydney Opera House. She received a personalized card from him for her 99th birthday

Prince Harry meets widow of war Daphne Dunne for the second time in Sydney on June 7, 2017

Prince Harry meets widow of war Daphne Dunne for the second time in Sydney on June 7, 2017

Daphne Dunne's first encounter with Prince Harry at the Sydney Opera House on May 7, 2015

Daphne Dunne's first encounter with Prince Harry at the Sydney Opera House on May 7, 2015

DAPHNE AND HARRY

May 7, 2015: Prince Harry and Daphne Dunne meet outside the Sydney Opera House after he sees her wearing a replica of Victoria Cross.

June 7, 2017: The couple will catch-up and share a hug at an Invictus Games launch event.

October 16, 2018: Prince Harry introduces Mrs. Dunne to her new wife, Meghan Markle, outside the Opera House.

On Friday Daphne appeared on the Today Show, where reporters read Prince Harry's birthday message live on the air.

"Dear Daphne, my wife and I send our warmest wishes to you on the occasion of your 99th birthday on Friday," said the card.

We hope you have a wonderful celebration surrounded by family and friends and have managed to escape from the hospital.

Congratulations on reaching this important and impressive milestone before your centennial year next year.

"Happy birthday Daphne.

"Congratulations, Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex."

Prince Harry introduced Meghan to Daphne Dunne during the couple's royal tour in Australia in 2018

Prince Harry introduced Meghan to Daphne Dunne during the couple's royal tour in Australia in 2018

Dunne's daughter said on Friday, "Meghan and Harry got the terrible disease she had."

"She's still very sick and I think the card they sent out means a lot. I think it will be the thing that will get her through.

Dunne's first husband, Albert Chowne, was killed during a raid on the Japanese in Papua New Guinea on March 25, 1945.

He received the Victoria Cross for his bravery.

"I would rather he had remained ordinary and alive": The moving story behind the special bond of widow of war Daphne Dunne with Prince Harry – and his terrible loss

First husband of Mrs. Dunne Albert Chowne was killed during World War II

First husband of Mrs. Dunne Albert Chowne was killed during World War II

By Stephen Gibbs

Daphne Dunne captured the hearts of millions of people when she met Prince Harry in Sydney last year for another kiss – the third time the pair met in three years.

But behind those charming images of the 98-year-old wartime widow and widow, there is a story of young love, extraordinary bravery, and terrible loss.

Prince Harry saw for the first time a replica of Victoria Cross fastened on Mrs. Dunne at the Sydney Opera House, after he completed his deployment with the Australian Defense Force in 2015.

"He asked me about the Victoria Cross," said Mme. Dunne back then. "He said he recognized that and wanted to know all about it."

The original VC, awarded to Mrs. Dunne's first husband, Albert Chowne, is at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in Canberra, along with decorations, including a Military Medal also awarded to Chowne in World War II.

Chowne was one of only 20 Australians to receive Victoria Cross – the Commonwealth's highest award for battlefield bravery – during World War II.

Prince Harry spent 10 years in the British Army, serving twice in Afghanistan. It is this shared military history and the interest of the young king by the war veterans who charmed him by Mme. Dunne.

"He does a lot for everyone, but he seems to like soldiers who were injured … that's the reason," she said last year. "It does not matter to me, it helps to make them feel better."

Lieutenant Albert Chowne was only 24 when he was killed in action in New Guinea in 1945

Lieutenant Albert Chowne was only 24 when he was killed in action in New Guinea in 1945

Albert Chowne was born in Sydney on July 19, 1920 and attended the Chatswood Boys Secondary School and then the Naremburn Junior Technical School.

In 1935 he began working as a shirt cutter at David Jones, where he would meet Daphne May Barton.

Chowne played a game of tennis and rugby and spent a brief period in the 36th Militia Battalion before joining the AIF on May 27, 1940.

He was initially assigned to the 2nd / 13th Battalion as a platoon and later as a company runner.

The unit arrived in the Middle East in November 1940 and Chowne served in Tobruk for eight months the following year. While there, Chowne was promoted to cable.

After Tobruk, his battalion carried out garrison duties in Syria, where Chowne was promoted to sergeant. He was injured in the leg and hand in El Alamein and spent three weeks in the hospital.

Chowne returned to Australia with the battalion in January 1943, before moving to New Guinea in July. He was awarded the military medal by twice crawling close to enemy positions to direct mortar fire.

"Considered exceptionally cool by his comrades, Chowne combined fearlessly with a modest way," according to the AWM.

He was commissioned as a lieutenant in January 1944 and married Daphne, a corporal at the Australian Women's Army Service, on March 15 of that year at the St. Philip's Anglican Church in Sydney.

After completing the jungle war training course in Canungra, southeast Queensland, Chowne was sent to the 2nd / 2nd Battalion in October 1944.

His unit was sent to New Guinea two months later. "Chowne has brought a reputation for bravery and leadership to his new unit," says the AWM website.

In March 1945, he held a patrol of a man in daylight on an internship by entering an empty hut and scouring the belongings of Japanese soldiers, one of whom he fired when it was discovered.

"Some who knew him believed that Chowne was destined to win Victoria Cross or be killed in action. Unfortunately both happened.

The governor-general introduced Albert Chowne's Victoria Cross at the Admiralty House in 1947

The governor-general introduced Albert Chowne's Victoria Cross at the Admiralty House in 1947

Daphne Chowne was presented with Albert Chowne's Military Medal in 1947 as his closest relative

Daphne Chowne was presented with Albert Chowne's Military Medal in 1947 as his closest relative

On March 25, 1945, the platoon leader of Chowne's company had trouble attacking a Japanese position near Dagua. Chowne left the lid and attacked the enemy.

In the next action, he climbed a steep, narrow path and managed to silence two light machine guns with grenades as he fired his submachine gun from his hip.

Under intense fire and twice wounded in his chest, Chowne continued to carry a Japanese trench and took out two more enemies before being killed. He was 24 years old.

Chowne's courage allowed the attack to continue and, according to his quote VC, paved the way for the advance of the 6th Division in Wewak.

Daphne turned 24 four days after her husband was killed. A bouquet of red roses that Chowne sent to celebrate his birthday arrived shortly before news of his death.

"I'm proud of him, but that does not make up for anything," she told the Sydney Morning Herald in September 1945. "I'd rather he stayed ordinary and alive." He was a wonderful man and a great husband.

I have no plans for the future. It's all dead to me now.

The governor general, Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester – the Queen's uncle – introduced Albert Chowne's VC to Daphne at the Admiralty House in 1947 and she subsequently presented him and his other medals to the AWM.

Later, Daphne married Corporal John Dunne, 2nd / 29th Battalion, who had been captured in Malaysia in 1942 and was arrested in Changi.

Albert Chowne was buried in Lae War Cemetery. A street in Canberra was named in his honor, as was a community hall in Willoughby on the north coast of Sydney.

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