Britain's Prince Charles (L) and his wife Camilla, Duchess
of Cornwall, attend an event to commemorate Armistice Day
at the Auckland War Memorial Museum November 11, 2012. The
royal couple are visiting New Zealand as part of
celebrations to mark Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee.
Photo by Reuters.
Diamond Jubilee fever has reached New Zealand, with
Charles, Prince of Wales, and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of
Cornwall, touring the country on the final leg of their Pacific
tour marking 60 years of the Queen's reign.
Prince Charles and the Duchess' first official engagement on
their six-day visit was the Armistice Day commemoration at
the Auckland War Memorial museum on Sunday.
Prince Charles laid a wreath on behalf of the Queen before
meeting war veterans and their families, who were reportedly
impressed with how easily the Royal couple mixed and
conversed with them. The Prince's speech in Maori during a
powhiri at the museum was well-received, although the
Duchess' hat caused some issues at her first hongi.
Hundreds of people of all ages braved wet and cold conditions
in downtown Auckland to greet the Royal couple on Tuesday.
Many of those who turned out in welcome were reportedly in
"hysteria" and screaming fans generated a "rock-star
reception". Yesterday, the prince and his wife flew to
Wellington where they were again feted by large crowds.
Many eyes are on the duchess, who is on her first visit here.
Charles was last in New Zealand in 2005, and of course many
will vividly recall his memorable visit in 1983, with Diana,
then Princess of Wales, and Prince William, which attracted
huge crowds throughout the country.
Prince William made a special visit to New Zealand in 2011 to
mark the November 2010 Pike River mine disaster, in which 29
men died, and the Christchurch earthquake of February 2011,
in which 185 people died.
The Queen herself has visited New Zealand 10 times. Her first
visit, with her husband, Prince Philip, was in the summer of
1953-54 during the first, long Commonwealth tour of her
reign, following her coronation in June 1953. She last
visited New Zealand for her Golden Jubilee celebrations in
Mr Key said the enthusiasm of the crowd at the war museum
service on Sunday reflected the affection New Zealanders
still had for the monarchy: "I think you can see by the polls
around that New Zealanders' support of the monarchy is
If anything it's been growing in recent years," Mr Key said.
There is still fascination and respect in many quarters for
the Queen, for whom duty and service, combined with a certain
royal reserve, have been characteristics that have earned her
the respect and affection of her subjects in Britain and
Charles and Camilla have both borne the brunt of criticism
over the failures that led to the marriage break-up of
Charles and Diana, but slowly the British and Commonwealth
people have forgiven them. (And the clear love for Prince
William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, from royalists
around the globe seems certain to help the longevity of the
Royal Family.)Other engagements for Charles and Camilla on
their New Zealand trip will include attending the official
opening of New Zealand's Diamond Jubilee gift to the Queen -
a new Visitor Centre at Government House - in Wellington
today, a visit to Weta Workshop to view items related to the
forthcoming Peter Jackson film, The Hobbit, and meetings with
Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader David Shearer.
The special highlight is expected to be tonight's special
birthday celebration, at Government House. Prince Charles
turns 64 today, and will be hosted at the dinner by
Governor-General Lieutenant-general Sir Jerry Mateparae (who
also celebrates his birthday today), along with 64 invited
New Zealanders, including the Prime Minister's wife Bronagh
Key, also marking their birthdays.
Tomorrow, the couple travel to the Manawatu for various
engagements including meeting Air Force personnel and their
families at RNZAF Base Ohakea, and on Friday, the couple
travel to Christchurch for appointments with a range of local
residents and groups and to attend the 150th Canterbury A and
Regrettably for royalists, their tour does not bring them to
Otago, but given the long legacy of royal visits to this
country, it is certain they - and/or others - will return.