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Royals are given a heads-up during New Zealand visit

By Tony Jones

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have received a heartwarming New Zealand welcome as they faced unseasonally cold weather at the start of their tour Down Under.

Charles and Camilla were lashed by rain and whipped by winds as springtime in Wellington felt more like the depths of winter and forced some of their itinerary to be moved indoors or cut short.

When their New Zealand Air Force jet touched down in the capital Wellington, the Duchess crossed the tarmac clutching a see-through umbrella and wore a scarf around her head as she braved the bad weather while the Prince ignored the conditions.

The royal couple's official welcome was hastily rearranged as the predicted let up in the conditions failed to materialise and they met waiting dignitaries - including prime minister John Key - inside a military terminal at Wellington International airport.

Maori elder Lewis Moeau performed the hongi greeting with the heir to the throne at Government House, the official Wellington residence of governor general Sir Jerry Mateparae.

New Zealand has had a string of royal visits in recent years with Prince Harry visiting in May, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge touring in 2014 and Charles and Camilla travelling to the Commonwealth nation in 2012.

Mr Moeau said: "I think New Zealanders welcome royalty back at any time. If you look back over the last few years we've had the father, his two sons and the daughter-in-law. I think by and large New Zealanders and Maoris look forward to royal visits."

He added that this was the third occasion he had performed a cultural Maori welcome with Charles.

"The hongi is the traditional custom of greeting visitors - it's the soft pressing of noses and the sharing of each other's breath when you first meet."

Belfast Telegraph


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