Prince Charles chats with swimmers at the Millenium Sports
Institute. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
It was a rockstar reception for the Prince of Wales and
the Duchess of Cornwall as they met hundreds who had gathered
excitedly in rainy downtown Auckland today.
The loud crowd made up for the miserable weather for the
royal pair's wet walk down the lower end of Queen St.
This morning Prince Charles and his wife Camilla were
farewelled from the AUT Millennium building on Auckland's
North Shore by hundreds of screaming children from Glenfield
The couple toured the centre; speaking with New Zealand
athletes, researchers and some excited swimmers.
Prince Charles laughed off the suggestion by swimmer Rachael
Jones that he would look good in Speedos, saying he would
need to spend time on the treadmill first.
Ms Jones, who stayed in her lane, apologised to the Duchess
for not being able to curtsey in the water.
"I think they're going to think 'Gosh these colonials are a
little strange'," Ms Jones said.
Sevens player Linda Itunu stopped her workout to give the
future king of England a sweaty hug.
"I'm not going to lie, but he's leaning into me," said Itunu
as she looked at photos of the hug.
Silver Ferns' defender Anna Harrison gave Prince Charles some
shooting tips before he made a couple of failed attempts.
"He was cool," Harrison said.
Their Royal Highnesses joined hundreds of school children for
a performance of Hairy Maclary at the Bruce Mason Theatre
Centre in Takapuna.
Backstage they met the actors, and Prince Charles seemed
particularly impressed by the dog costumes.
"They loved it: they loved the dogs and they loved the way we
were moving," said Tom Wardle, who plays the dog Bottomly
Potts, "covered in spots".
"I wasn't nervous [to meet them] but I think there's just so
much mana with them, you know. You grow up with these people
and you see them in the headlines and on the TV and all over
the place, so actually seeing them in the flesh is quite a
strange experience, but it's amazing."
Georgia Wood, the show's narrator and a self-confessed
"greenie", was honoured to meet the prince.
"I thanked him for his work with the environment and he
really responded to that, he said 'Oh, thank you, we battle
on'. I really respect the Prince for that. It was nice, as a
human, just to say that to him, rather than being too
Prince Charles later had a cup of tea with staff from the
Coastguard and surf life savers - but he had to leave without
finishing his drink because it was too hot.
Volunteers joked about auctioning off the unfinished brew for
Campbell Hope, who has been a coastguard volunteer since the
Wahine disaster of 1968, said the Prince seemed genuinely
interested in the work they were doing.
"He loves boats and, with his kids in search and rescue as
well, I think it's probably in the family. You can tell that
he's a seaman at heart."
At East Tamaki Primary School in Otara, the Duchess of
Cornwall, dressed in a cream jacket, skirt and cape by
designer Fiona Clare, enjoyed a lunch of beetroot and fennel
salad and carrot cake made by the students.
The Duchess had high praise for the meal, calling the cake -
which she ate at one stage with her fingers - "very good".
East Tamaki Primary student Puna Rongo said meeting the
Duchess was a nerve-racking experience.
"I was nervous when she was talking to me. I didn't know what
to say. I didn't know what my favourite soup was, so I said
'pumpkin'. But I don't really like soup."
But it was on Queen St where crowds were most excited as
Their Royal Highnesses spent 40 minutes greeting people who
had crammed behind barricades to see the visitors.
Schoolgirls clutched their hearts, groups of ecstatic
royalists yelled compliments to the pair, and a couple of
hecklers managed to get the attention of police.
Lan Park, who owns a florist in downtown Auckland, handed a
huge bouquet of 64 red roses to Prince Charles as a gift for
his 64th birthday on Wednesday.
"I don't want to say how much they cost," Ms Park said.
"He said they were amazing."
Waiheke resident Violet Hollis, who turns 96 on Wednesday,
exchanged birthday wishes with the Prince.
"I thought he was going to give me a kiss," Ms Hollis said.
- By Kieran Campbell and Matthew Theunissen of APNZ and
Anna Loren and Michelle Robinson of Fairfax