British Royal Family

Prince Harry a hit in Christchurch

Prince Harry's first day in Christchurch started off with some cupcakes, and some very cute babies.

By Juliet Rieden
Prince Harry flew into Christchurch today following a night spent under a veil of secrecy in an exclusive lodge in Wanaka having dined on good British fare - bangers and mash - at the Cardrona Hotel.
In Christchurch hundreds lined the streets in the sun to meet the Prince, chanting his name as he arrived. Harry climbed aboard tram 152 - the same tram Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip rode during their 1995 Christchurch visit - with Prime Minister John Key, only this time Harry was seeing a very different Christchurch to the one "Granny" spied.
Still battling to come back from the terrible devastation wrought by the 2011 earthquake, this pretty city continues to be a 24/7 building site. The cathedral, once at its heart is now ringed by fences, much of it unsafe and one side destroyed. Whether it will be rebuilt is still a matter of dispute and so the broken down edifice remains, crumbling more every day. The earthquake killed 185 people and left the city in ruins, but today Prince Harry was shown the multi-billion dollar restoration work, which has involved rebuilding whole streets and replanning the city centre.
Australian mum Mel Harris has been living near Christchurch since 1992 and tells The Weekly the earthquakes were terrifying. Today she joined the crowds in the town centre with her son, redheaded Riley, six, and daughter Charlotte, nine. They had made a sign to attract Prince Harry.
"Keep Calm, Ginger is the Spice of Life" it said with a glittery crown emblem. The tactic worked and talking as one redhead to another the Prince said to Riley: "Gingers rule ... don't let anyone hassle you about it at school."
Mel was one of hundreds who got to meet and talk to Harry today as the Prince ensured he spoke to as many of the crowd as possible. They couldn't get enough of the royal visitor. Seven-year-old Michael Chinula came with his classmates from St Michael's Church School."Harry told me it's awesome flying helicopters. He said 'you should try it when you're older'," Michael who is planning his future as a pilot, told The Weekly.
The Prince also broke his 'no selfie' rule, as he agreed to have his picture taken with 14-year-old Finlay Martin. But he did it on the agreement that he wouldn't look at the camera.
"He said he didn't do selfies but he would do this one but not look at the camera," she said.
"I was actually more excited than I thought I would be."
Prince Harry's selfie with Finlay Martin.
Prince Harry was handed a number of gifts including a hand made flowery duvet for Princess Charlotte and a mini polo stick. Taking the stick from the crowd he turned to Prime Minister John Key and pretended to knock him on the head with it.
In the afternoon the weather turned to hail, wind and rain but it didn't deter the students at Canterbury University who stood outside for hours waiting for Prince Harry.
The kind Prince even bought out some cupcakes for those who had been waiting.
On a day spent meeting as many Christchurch locals as possible Prince Harry blamed Facebook and social media for preventing youngsters from connecting with their communities. The Prince was at Canterbury University speaking to the Student Volunteer Army, an organisation born out of students desire to help in the aftermath of the Canterbury Earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. "Everyone seems to be more connected with the world than with their own community," he said. Harry heard from members of the SVA about its idea for a national service day - encouraging people around the country to give back to their communities. "It's little things like that that make such a difference," he said.
Harry said he believed there were many former military people who still wanted to give back to their countries, so did so through volunteering, like the SVA did for Canterbury following its earthquake and believed the SVA model should be "replicated across the world". While the days of shovelling liquefaction are over, the SVA has a raft of community service projects planned for 2015 and beyond.
At an outdoor display Harry was taken to various activity stations set up to show some of the initiatives the SVA was involved with in Christchurch after the city's earthquakes and despite the rain the Prince valiantly took part. The displays included bicycle repairs, painting and vegetable gardening.
The Prince was invited to write his own message on a shed set up in the quad. "Thanks for having me! Sorry about the weather! Best wishes" He wrote.

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