Rockstar reception for Charles and Camilla

Prince Charles chats with swimmers at the Millenium Sports Institute. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty...
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 Intermediate.

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 formal."

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 "$150".

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


Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter