British Royal Family

‘Very nice and very beautiful’ Camilla charms NZ

Prince Charles has an emotional surprise reunion while Camilla is showered with compliments on an action-packed day in New Zealand

By Juliet Rieden
The royal couple stepped up the pace on day four of their Kiwi tour with a packed program of eight engagements kicking off with a walkabout at the popular al fresco Saturday market in the picture postcard town of Nelson.
Thousands had turned out in the hope of meeting the heir to the throne and the Duchess, and one sure fire way to attract royal attention is to bring along a pooch … especially if it’s a royal hound.
So it was for Hannah Petley, 43, who had not only brought her corgi along, but revealed his name was that of Prince Charles’ grandson, George.
The royal couldn’t help but give George a pat. "Charles said 'is he a friendly corgi?'” a happy Hannah said afterwards. “And when I said he was, he put his hand down and George licked it."
As the couple shook as many outstretched hands as possible, the Duchess high-fived another George, a 10-year-old who had got right royally dressed up as a guardsman complete with a replica scarlet tunic and bearskin hat.
Delighted, Camilla stopped for a chat. “She’s very nice and she’s very beautiful,” said George afterwards.
The couple then parted ways, with Camilla meeting the entrants for Nelson’s annual competition for wearable art, and The Prince exploring the world of sustainable seafood at Cawthron Institute research centre.
The Duchess was especially wowed by Wellington model Lucy Aitcheson wearing a “Frockatoo” dress made from cockatoo feathers and featuring birds’ heads. “It looks very good on you,” said Camilla.
“She liked the birds,” said Lucy, echoing 10-year-old George’s sentiments when she added “She’s very beautiful.”
Camilla was also captivated by a self-lit highland pipe band costume. Dame Suzie Moncrieff, creator and founded Nelson’s World of Wearable Art (WOW) Museum said: "She loved the technical side of it. She had a giggle and said it was well made. She really enjoyed herself. I found her really lovely, genuine and down-to-earth. She was really interested in the garments she viewed and he materials used. She said she'd never seen anything quite like this."
Meanwhile Prince Charles was meeting a less beautiful - but equally fascinating -“Camilla” over at the Cawthron Institute where he was introduced to sustainable seafood as part of his tour of the ground-breaking facility.
A "first in the world" achievement for the institute was unveiled to the Prince in the form of the first female scampi bred in captivity in New Zealand. In honour of the royal visit Cawthron had named her Camilla, which was met by much laughter.
During the Prince's scientific jaunt, 92-year-old Jaqui Botting sat patiently in her walker waiting outside her rest home - across the road from Cawthron - with a Christmas card in hand.
Although she couldn't remember the year or many of the details around when it was given, the name Charles was very clear in the signature. Botting had been a nurse at Clarence House, Prince Charles’ home in London, and had treasured the Christmas card from the Prince.
Prince Charles reminisced with Botting on his way out of the institute, and his words left her almost speechless. "He remembered me didn't he?" she said. "It was very nice."
The royal couple reunited at Mahana Winery where they enjoyed some organic red wine before going their separate ways again, with the Duchess returning to Wellington for a prison visit, and His Royal Highness flying to Westport to watch a military exercise and visit an organic brewery.
Inmates at Arohata Women’s Prison in Wellington welcomed the Duchess of Cornwall with song.
Dressed in a blue coat sporting pearls and a Remembrance Day poppy brooch the Duchess was treated to a performance from the prison's kapa haka group. She was then led through the long prison hall past the holding cells to be shown some of Arohata's rehabilitation initiatives.
Camilla is no stranger to life behind prison walls. She is the Royal Patron for The Friends of Erlestoke Prison in Britain which supports the rehabilitation of prisoners.
At Arohata she was shown the prison's literacy program and new online learning facilities. Students told the Duchess they wanted to finish high school and go to university.
Camilla's love of literature was evident as several prisoners from the creative writing course shared their work. "I didn't bring my specs so you will have to read it for me," she enthused.
She also met with prisoners undertaking the drug and alcohol treatment program. The program is the only one for women prisoners in the country.
The Duchess showed genuine interest in how the program was helping the women. "How long have you been in the programme? What are your ambitions after leaving prison?" were among her questions. "I want to return home a great mother to my kids," was a response.
Before she left Camilla was presented with handmade animal blankets to take with her to her next stop at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
At Wellington's SPCA the Duchess looked in her element playing with pooches, especially Jonah a rescue dog. The Duchess then placed a leaf on the tree of remembrance for her own late Jack Russell Freddie, who died in 2007 at the age of 21.
The penultimate part of the tour saw Arthur a three-legged dog washed in an automatic dog wash. The Duchess put a token into the machine to begin the wash, which failed the first time.
SPCA volunteers say Arthur who lost a limb when a car ran him over was picked because he was a good dog who didn't fear crowds.
The whirlwind visit ended with Her Royal Highness meeting board members and volunteers and chatting to them over a strong cup of English Breakfast tea. One board member, Charlotte Fisher said they talked about horses for much of the time.
Former Mayor Kerry Prendergast farewelled the Duchess and gave her a gift, a New Zealand branded Swandri coat for her Jack Russell Beth.
The Duchess said "I'm sure Beth would be very pleased - I'll take it back home and she will be all ready to face a long winter."
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