Thursday 23 October 2014

Teething Prince George takes a break as Kate and William get rapturous welcome from New Zealand town

Tony Jones, Press Association Court Correspondent in Wellington, New Zealand

Published 10/04/2014 | 06:52

Prince William and Kate Middleton received a rapturous welcome from the people of New Zealand as they paid their respects to the nation's war dead.

William and Kate's visit to the town of Blenheim brought 5,000 people on to the streets to catch a glimpse of the couple and welcome them to the nation's picturesque South Island.

The mood of the ecstatic crowds was contrasted with a sombre wreath-laying service at the town's war memorial that saw the royal couple honour those who died fighting for New Zealand in all conflicts.

The Duke and Duchess, who wore a blue Alexander McQueen coat, went on a walkabout after the ceremony to meet people, many waving union flags and laden with flowers or presents. Locals also stood on balconies to get a better view of the royal couple while a handful of schoolchildren climbed a tree.

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William and Kate have brought their eight-month-old son Prince George with them on their 19-day tour of New Zealand and Australia and yesterday he romped with other babies at a playgroup staged by childcare advisory organisation Plunket.

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Zella Vile, who is in her 70s, handed over a pair of brown booties to the Duke who thanked her and said: "These will fit him quite well."

She said: "It took me just a day to make them, it's my hobby. I just thought George is lovely and I'll make something for him."

The Duke also received a tiny teddy bear from a well wisher and was given a friendship bracelet from a little boy and immediately put it on his right wrist.

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Jan Cross, 55, originally from Royal Leamington Spa, who emigrated to New Zealand seven years ago, joked with William about looking after his son: "I said, "Is George OK?' and William said, 'Yes' and I asked if he enjoyed himself at Plunket and he said he had.

"Then he said, 'You can do some babysitting for us if you like'. I would love to help out with George for the day."

The baby Prince, who is teething, was the topic of the conversation when the Duke stopped to chat to Annette Michna-Konigstorfer, a 55-year-old tutor. She said: "I asked him how his kid was and he said he hopes he's not chewing everything at Government House. William was fantastic and wonderful - I love all the Royal Family."

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And when the Duke met a little girl close to his son's age he played along with the joke that maybe they could go on a date. Tai Dixon, 35, who lives in Blenheim, sat her 11-month-old daughter Iona on a crash barrier holding back the crowds and William brought a smile to her face when he tickled the child.

Mrs Dixon, a midwife originally from Holmfirth, Yorkshire, where the long-running sitcom Last Of The Summer Wine is filmed, said: "William said it would be hilarious if he brought George here, he said he was drooling."

She was joined by her mother Cali Grainne Rainbow, who added: "I'm in New Zealand to see my granddaughter and I said she could get together with George and William said he would set them up."

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