Prince William, wife Catherine and their son, Prince
George, look set to visit New Zealand next year. Photo
The most popular members of the royal family - including
their newest addition - look set to visit New Zealand next
year, even though it's an election year.
Plans are afoot for a visit by Prince William, wife Catherine
and son Prince George - understood to be one of several
events that the government will have to work around when
setting an election date.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says there's no reason
why the royals can't visit during election year.
"If they come in the election period - it's generally seen as
that period where sort of three months beforehand - then
there are all sorts of rules that apply there," he told
TVNZ's Breakfast programme.
That suggests any visit would be in the first half or last
months of 2014, with the election likely to take place
between September and November.
Mr Key says even if the royals did visit close to an
election, he doesn't expect to gain much political capital
from photo opportunities.
"I think it's a wonderful thing that they come and I'm a
massive supporter of the royal family but I don't think
someone goes into a polling booth and says `I'm going to vote
National because Prince William turned up in New Zealand'."
The government was under pressure in 2011 to turn the royals
away from the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, as it fell
close to election day.
A spokeswoman for Mr Key said at the time that any visit
would be "private" to prevent it becoming "part of the
pre-election political debate".
In the end, the royals didn't visit.
Mr Key has already met Prince George, who was born on July
22, when he and his family visited Balmoral - the Queen's
estate in Scotland - in September.