Affection for the Royals

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge holding their child, prince George. Photo by NZ Post.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge holding their child, prince George. Photo by NZ Post.
The visit to New Zealand and Australia by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will hold more appeal for a wider public than just royalists, especially given official confirmation Prince George will also travel here.

Prince William toured New Zealand with his parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales, at the same tender age of about 9 months, becoming a pioneer for young royal travellers.

No doubt, plenty of comparisons will be drawn during this year's visit, which runs from April 7-25.

Details of the couple's tour show they have adopted an approach tailored to accommodating travelling with their son.

While Prince George will be based with a nanny in Wellington, Sydney and Canberra, his parents will make a series of day trips, spending just two nights away from him during the tour.

The Cambridges have been keen to portray themselves as ''modern royals'', and there are no black-tie events on the schedule.

This is said to mean no tiaras for the duchess.

Two state receptions will, however, necessitate evening attire.

Prince George's visit contrasts with the experience of his grandfather, Prince Charles, who was regularly left at home with a nanny from the age of 1 while Princess Elizabeth, as the Queen then was, joined her husband in Malta when Prince Philip was stationed with the Royal Navy.

The Queen did not see her parents for six months when they undertook a tour on behalf of George V when she was 9 months old.

The Queen has granted permission for the second and third in line to the Throne to travel together, despite protocol usually dictating separate flights for those in immediate direct line of succession.

It has not been decided how much of the young prince the public will see but it is hoped he is on show for at least one engagement in each country including, possibly, a coffee morning for new mothers, fathers and their babies at Government House, in Wellington, organised by Plunket.

The visit comes at an interesting time for New Zealand with an election being held later this year and something of a debate about whether New Zealand should change its flag.

A royal tour in an election year is perhaps second in feelgood factor only to New Zealand hosting, and winning, the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

Although April is five or six months from the general election, a royal visit engenders goodwill which is said to advantage the Government.

Each prime minister of New Zealand has the Queen's representative deliver a speech from the Throne, if she is not available to personally deliver it, at the start of each legislative session.

In the speech, the Government outlines its programme for the year.

Whether the prime minister should deliver his or her own speech must be up for debate, rather than having a government-appointed Governor-General deliver something which may be in complete contrast to his or her personal, and private, political beliefs.

Prime Minister John Key has been accused of trying to divert attention away from his Government's legislative process by discussing whether New Zealand should change its flag, perhaps to a silver fern on a black background, or something else which reflects our ties to the Commonwealth but without the Union Jack in the corner.

The apparent closeness of New Zealand's flag to that of Australia is part of the debate.

Mr Key has indicated he will discuss the flag issue during the April royal visit.

New Zealanders, despite many claiming to be republicans, enjoy a royal visit and put much store in what the visitors say and do while touring the country.

The visit will give New Zealanders another opportunity to look to themselves and decide if they actually want to remove ties with the Royal Family.

The new-look Royals impart energy and enthusiasm to the institution, something often been lacking in the past.

Links with Britain are particularly strong in New Zealand, even as the older generation who talked about the ''old country'' disappear.

This visit will likely confirm the affection New Zealanders hold for the Royals, rather than hasten the loosening of the long-established links.

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