Duchess wants to waltz off with Matilda the koala after meeting orphaned bears

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The Duchess of Cornwall was left smitten after cuddling a koala yesterday with the Prince of Wales.

Camilla cradled Matilda, a nine-month-old orphan, and said she wanted to take the tiny furry creature home with her.

Charles was more pragmatic and joked about the koalas’ reputation for having weak bladders when he was handed Kao, aged four. “Something ominous will run down,” he said.

Koala rescue volunteers Warren and Rae Campbell had brought the animals to Government House in Adelaide for the royal couple to meet.

The two animals were busily munching eucalyptus leaves as they hung on to the Campbells when the royal couple walked onto a veranda at the historic building.

The couple offered them to the Prince and Duchess, with Camilla saying to Charles as she gestured to Kao “you take the big one, darling”.

The koalas were wrapped in cloth pouches and as the Duchess held her tiny animal she joked: “They’ve got their nappies on.”

The Prince’s koala faced away from him and he said: “I can’t see this one at all, he’s looking down all the time.”

Camilla affectionately stroked the tiny joey koala in her arms during the five-minute meeting and Charles held his animal a little closer the longer the encounter went on.

Mrs Campbell, 68, from Trott Park, Adelaide, and her 74-year-old husband have been rescuing and looking after Australian wildlife for more than 50 years.

The couple volunteer for Fauna Rescue of South Australia – a leading wildlife conservation group – and often travel hundreds of miles a week to rescue endangered animals.

They took in nine-month-old Kao after she was found in parkland as a young joey and Matilda was discovered still in the pouch of her mother, who had been hit and killed by a car.

Mrs Campbell said: “Koalas have long nails and sharp teeth, that’s their form of self-defence, but I trimmed their nails for the royal visit as I didn’t want the Prince and the Duchess covered in lots of Band Aids.”

Earlier a little girl was given an unusual piece of advice by the Duchess – try kissing a frog.

Camilla joked about the princess and the frog fairytale when she came across a group of children looking after tadpoles at Kilkenny Primary School in Adelaide.

The Duchess told Maisha, a seven-year-old who had explained the lifecycle project to the royals: “There’s a fairy story about a frog. You have to try kissing it very hard and see what happens.”