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Prince George star of the show

If royal visits are judged by the size of the welcoming crowds, positive headlines and the number of gifts received then the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's tour of New Zealand has been a resounding success.

Wherever William and Kate have visited Kiwis have shown their affection by screaming, handing over presents and waiting for hours to shake the hands of their visitors.

But the real star of the tour has been their eight-month-old son Prince George whose appearance at a playgroup in Wellington left the Kiwis in raptures.

The Prince's antics crawling, playing with toys and tugging on his mother's hair showed the future king was in many ways just like any other baby - albeit growing up in front of the world's media.

George's face has graced news stands across New Zealand with papers and magazines giving front page coverage to the future king.

Women's Day magazine dubbed him "His Royal Cuteness" on its front cover, which also featured images of the Duchess under the headline "Our Queen of Hearts".

Glossy women's title New Idea also made the royal mother and son their cover story, and summed up their impact with the headlines "Kate and Prince George Take New Zealand by Storm" and "Prince of our hearts".

This response was echoed by the magazine New Zealand Woman's Weekly, which had the cover story headline "Sweet George: How the royals have won our hearts".

William made a similar impact on New Zealand in 1983 when, aged nine months, he crawled across a rug on the lawns of Government House in Auckland as his parents the Prince and Princess of Wales watched.

Today the Duke and Duchess are enjoying a private rest day as a family before the final day of their New Zealand trip tomorrow.

George has only been seen twice during the first leg of William and Kate's 19-day tour of New Zealand and Australia - in his mothers arms on the tarmac at Wellington International Airport and crawling around at the playgroup - so the couple's arrival in Sydney tomorrow will be eagerly anticipated.

His nanny Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo made her first public appearance the day the Cambridges arrived, walking down steps from the New Zealand military plane that had brought the royal trio to the capital Wellington.

The unassuming figure trained at the world famous Norland College and remained in the background as dozens of camera shutters clicked.

William and Kate have thrown themselves into the visit - happy to get involved with activities, meeting hundreds of well-wishers and taking part in more formal occasions.

Whether racing against each other in yachts in the waters off Auckland, coaching young tag rugby players before a final or playing cricket, their enthusiasm has shone through.

The competitive rivalry between the couple came to the fore during the sporting events and honours were even as Kate triumphed in the yachting while William's team won the rugby.

Kate's fashion has also made headlines and her outfits have been well received - from her Wellington state reception Jenny Packham dress featuring two symbols of New Zealand - the colour black and the silver fern - to the blue pleated dress worn to a Dunedin church service and created by Emilia Wickstead, the New Zealand-born designer.

The Duke summed up his feelings about the trip in a speech in Christchurch, during a catch-up visit with Kate to learn how residents are rebuilding the city and their lives three years after an earthquake killed 185 people.

He said: " As you all know, this is Catherine's first visit to New Zealand, and the two of us could not be more grateful for the way in which we have been made to feel so very welcome.

"There have been many highlights from the past 10 days in this beautiful country - Catherine beating me at sailing does not count amongst them, not for me anyway."

During their last day in New Zealand tomorrow the royal couple will visit the Royal New Zealand Police College near Wellington to acknowledge the sacrifice of 29 officers in the New Zealand Police who have been killed during the course of their duties, and t hey will also watch a policing and dog handling demonstration.

In the New Zealand capital the Duke and Duchess will go on a walkabout before flying to Sydney where they will visit Sydney Opera House for a reception given by the governor and premier of New South Wales.


From Belfast Telegraph