Prince Charles greeted with Aboriginal dancers in Alice Springs

Britain's Prince Charles toured Australia's Outback where topless Aborignal women danced for him Wednesday while fellow countryman and rocker Ozzy Osbourne sent his congratulations from Sydney on the prince's wedding plans. Charles was in Alice Springs during a five-day whirlwind tour of Australia that has been overshadowed by scrutiny of his coming marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles, which has fazed some observers because their romance began before the late Princess Diana died. Osbourne, rock and roll's self-proclaimed "Prince of Darkness," weighed in on the issue while in Australia's biggest city to host the first MTV Australia Video Music Awards, calling the prince a "mate" and saying he should be allowed to marry Parker Bowles in peace. "It's his business you know. His first wife got killed so what's he expected to do, be single for the rest of his life? If he likes her and she likes him or whatever, good luck on them," the former Black Sabbath lead singer told reporters in Sydney. For his trip to the arid Outback town of Alice Springs, Charles wore a jacket and tie in the desert heat as he stepped off an Australian air force jet. Six topless Aboriginal women with their bodies painted in ochre welcomed the prince with a traditional dance called Tjukurra Palya. The women had traveled from Papunya, a community of 370 Aborigines 230 kilometers (145 miles) west of Alice Springs. "We're wishing him happiness in the future, and wherever he goes in Australia we're wishing him well," said their leader, Alison Anderson. Anderson declined to say what the prince's visit meant to Aborigines, saying she did not want to answer political questions. Aboriginal activists argue that Britain illegally took their land when it colonized Australia in 1788. A small crowd of about 20 people gathered at the Alice Springs airport to see the prince arrive. The 56-year-old heir to the British throne approached the group of well-wishers later and praised them for braving the 39 degree Celsius (102 degree Fahrenheit) weather to greet him. "He said we're very brave for weathering the heat," English-born Alice Springs resident Enid Harland said. "He said he feels like he just went into an oven and his blood is still very thick." Locals observed that Charles wore a shirt and no tie when he last visited the remote central Australian city of 30,000 in 1983. During his last visit, he and then-wife Princess Diana slept in a budget motel because a flooded river had cut access to the town's best accommodation. Charles has a hectic agenda on his last official trip before his April 8 wedding, cramming five Australian cities into as many days. From Melbourne, he flies to Sydney and Canberra, and then to New Zealand and Fiji. Charles' last visit to Australia in 1994 was marred by an assassination scare when a university student stormed a Sydney stage and fired two blank rounds from a starter's pistol as the prince gave a speech. The student, David Kang, has since become a Sydney barrister. Associated Press

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