Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

Firm making a beeline for royal toy list

Company wants George to have a Buzzy Bee, as Wills did, but protocol decides what he gets.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge pose for an official family portrait. Photo / Camera Press / Jason Bell
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge pose for an official family portrait. Photo / Camera Press / Jason Bell

There is no guarantee Prince George will take home a Buzzy Bee, as his father did 30 years ago, but if he does it will look slightly different from the one sitting in the royal toy box.

Royal protocol deems no official gifts are to be presented to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge or their son during the family's nine-day visit to New Zealand next month. Instead, a series of pre-approved "mementos" will accompany them back to England to remind them of their stay.

In 1983, photos of Prince Charles, his wife, Diana, and their young son William playing with the slice of Kiwiana in Auckland were shown all around the world.

Gallery: Prince William's visits to NZ

William's toy was presented by Lady Norma Beattie, wife of the then Governor-General, Sir David, because their six children had outgrown the pull-along wooden bee.

That model would have been very similar to the original toy made by wood craftsman Maurice Scheslinger in Grey Lynn in the late 1930s and Auckland brothers Hec and John Ramsay in New Lynn during the 1940s.

It has since gone through a small number of changes - including moving some manufacturing to China in the mid-1990s, moving full manufacturing there in 2006 and adding eyebrows and a smiley face in 2007.

Lion Rock Ventures bought ownership of the toy in 2004 and co-owner Wendy Hall said the changes were made to return the toy to its original form.

Mrs Hall said the company had been working on plans to get a toy to Prince George, but there were strict rules around the practice.

Royal Visit Office spokesman Allen Walley said gifts were discouraged by royal officials, but a series of mementos, yet to be announced, would be given to the family to commemorate their stay.

Cambridges ready for trip Downunder

With his mother's brown eyes and his father's blond hair, Prince George poses with his parents for his first official portrait in five months.

Read more here.

Prince George. Photo / AP
Prince George. Photo / AP

The photograph, released ahead of the family's tour of New Zealand and Australia next week, was taken at Kensington Palace by Jason Bell, who also took the official pictures of Prince George's christening in October. It shows how much George, who bears more than a passing resemblance to his father at the same age, has grown since then, though the 8-month-old future king is more interested in the family's spaniel, Lupo, than the camera.

The picture was taken two weeks ago looking into a ground-floor room at the palace's Apartment 1A, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's new home, where the Duchess will today (NZT) celebrate her first Mothering Sunday as a parent.

Prince George, who has started crawling, will attend his first official engagement on April 9, when he joins a parent-and-baby group at Government House in Wellington.

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