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Swedish king and queen arrive in Canberra

The king and queen of Sweden arrived in Australia's national capital on Monday at the official start of a royal visit that will take them from Canberra to the heart of the parched red Outback.

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia were welcomed by a 21-gun salute and guard of honor when they arrived at a military air base in Canberra after a short flight from Sydney, where they spent Sunday night.

The royal couple laid a wreath at the Australian War Memorial before heading to Parliament House, where they were scheduled to attend a luncheon hosted by Prime Minister John Howard.

They were to attend a state dinner given by Governor General Michael Jeffery, the representative of Australia's head of state, British Queen Elizabeth II, on Monday evening before returning to Sydney on Tuesday.

The royal couple are to visit the landmark Ayers Rock, also known by its Aboriginal name Uluru, in the Northern Territory, where they will attend a traditional Aboriginal ceremony during a six-day tour that will also take them to the cities of Adelaide and Perth.

The king and queen were being accompanied by Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds and a business delegation. Sweden's ambassador, Karin Ehnbom-Palmquist, said it was an honor to have the royals visit so soon after Crown Princess Victoria came to Australia in March.

The king last visited Australia in the 1980s, while the queen is in Australia for the first time, AP reports.

A. A.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team