Prince William, Catherine, Prince George take three-week royal tour
(CNN) — Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in New Zealand Monday on a much-anticipated three-week royal tour of that country and Australia, the first trip for baby Prince George.
While George is making the long trip with William and Catherine, it’s not yet clear if he will be attending public events with his parents.
Announcing the royal couple’s planned engagements on the April 7 to 25 visit, the Prince’s private secretary identified occasions at which the youngest royal might be present, but kept an element of suspense.
“George being just a little over eight months old by the time they travel, I’m sure you will appreciate that the couple will have to make a final decision on those moments much closer to the time,” he said.
With Prince William second in line to the British throne and his young son third, Queen Elizabeth II had to give permission for both to travel on the same plane.
The royals touched down Monday in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital. Battling windy conditions, Catherine held her son as they exited the plane and, along with Prince William, were greeted by dignitaries on the tarmac.
After a 10-day tour taking in stops in Hamilton, Christchurch and Queenstown, the royals will travel on to Australia for the second leg of their trip.
One of the engagements earmarked for a potential appearance for Prince George is the opening of the Bilby Enclosure at Taronga Zoo in Sydney.
The Australian government made a donation to the zoo for its bilby preservation program when George was born, and the enclosure is to be named after him, the palace said.
On its website, the zoo said the Australian government had given a bilby, a native nocturnal marsupial with large ears, to the young prince to “adopt.”
The royals will also visit the Blue Mountains near Sydney, where they’ll meet residents affected by recent bush fires, Uluru and the capital, Canberra, while in Australia.
Shared enthusiasm for trip
In February, Australasian media seized on reports Australia’s incoming governor general had apparently let slip that George would make his first official visit Down Under.
“They’ll bring with them Prince George, the little one,” Peter Cosgrove was quoted as saying, after a visit to the Queen at Buckingham Palace. After reporters tried to clarify the comment, Cosgrove appeared to backtrack, saying, “I hope he’s coming.”
Confirmation came in early March that George was indeed joining his parents on the official trip — echoing his father’s own childhood travels.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana first took Prince William to New Zealand and Australia in 1983, and he was photographed taking his first steps on the lawn of Government House in Auckland, New Zealand.
This will be Catherine’s first visit to either country, while William last visited New Zealand after the devastating 2011 earthquake in Christchurch. On this trip, the royal couple will visit the city together and stop to remember the 185 people killed.
They are looking forward to their trip to both countries “immensely,” Kensington Palace said.
“There’s no hiding the enthusiasm for the visit by both the Duke and the Duchess. The Duke, because he has been before; and the Duchess because she has never been to either country but has wanted to do so as long as she can remember.
“The Duke has no doubt that his wife will fall in love with New Zealand and Australia every bit as much as he did, some years ago.”
The pair may not always be in complete agreement on their trip, however.
Kensington Palace said the Duke and Duchess were “just a little competitive” and some of the events on the itinerary will pit husband against wife.
The royal couple will board separate Team NZ America’s Cup yachts for some informal racing in Auckland and coach rival teams in “rippa” rugby, a non-contact version of Rugby Union, in the South Island city of Dunedin.
“Again, I think we can expect some pretty competitive outbursts,” the palace said.
A century after the outbreak of World War I, the tour will also see William and Kate paying tribute to both countries’ war dead and visiting military bases.
Their last day will be April 25 — ANZAC [Australian and New Zealand Army Corps] Day, which originally marked the landing of soldiers from both nations at Gallipoli, Turkey, in 1915. In the eight-month campaign fought there, 2,721 New Zealanders and 8,709 Australians died, before the allied forces withdrew. The day is now a tribute to those who have died in all conflicts.
The Duke and Duchess will plant a seed from a pine tree at the site of the battle at the Australian War Memorial in Australia’s capital city, Canberra, before returning to London.