A right Royal visit

Britain's Prince Charles (L) and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, attend an event to...
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 2002.

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 extremely strong.

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 beyond.

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 P Show.

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.


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