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What's not to love about the royal family? Its members are stars of the longest running soap opera ever created. And when Diana was around it had more drama than Coronation Street. During the 1983 royal tour, I waited in a Wellington street to eyeball Charles and Diana. I was gutted that, because I'd chosen the wrong side, my close-up view was of the Prince of Wales fiddling with his cufflinks when all I'd wanted was to see Diana in her green outfit. Not that we knew it at the time but it was sentiments such as this that are likely to have created early tensions in this doomed royal marriage.
Gallery: Prince William's visits to NZ
Image 1 of 15: Royal Tours: Prince Charles, Princess Diana and Prince William on the front lawn of Government House Auckland. 1983 New Zealand Woman's Weekly / NZH Archive. SUN 29Nov09 - NZH 16Jan10 - WGC 18Nov10 - BOP 18Nov10 - NAD 18Nov10 - NZH 11Jul11 -
I keep up with the Cambridges whenever I can. Nearly three years ago I stayed up late to watch the broadcast of William and Kate's wedding. And I regularly visit whatkatewore.com to find out, well, what she's been wearing. So I greeted the announcement of next week's itinerary in Littlest royal confirmed for NZ tour with benign interest.
The Cambridges' New Zealand tour, which will run from April 7 to 16, involves a hectic schedule that includes a ceremonial welcome, wreath laying, portrait unveiling, hospice visit, church service and yacht racing. With wall-to-wall engagements I didn't begrudge them some down time. Of course, they'll need a "[d]ay of leisure" on Tuesday 8 April and how nice that the royals will spend Tuesday 15 April "together privately", I'd thought.
I'd never understood the motivation behind all the unkind words about the royals that anonymous posters leave on various websites. They accuse them of being lazy, of living a pampered life at the expense of others. With more than a modicum of bitterness, they list the expensive holidays taken and the fancy clothes Kate wears - and use them as further evidence of her unworthiness.
I'd always thought that what the Cambridges get up to in their spare time is really none of our business. So when Royals jet to Maldives revealed they were off on a week's stay at "one of the most exclusive resorts in the Indian Ocean - the five-star Cheval Blanc Randheli Hotel", I didn't bat an eyelid.
Nor was I bothered when it was reported that six protection officers accompanied William and Kate to a private function to which Kate wore a $2,700 designer coat. Some of the readers were though: "A pair of lead royals that only know how to waste our taxes," said one. "SIX police protection officers!! How much does this cost?" asked another.
But, after watching Breakfast's Australia correspondent report that it can cost up to $100,000 per hour to host royals on tour, those curmudgeonly responses suddenly seemed a lot less churlish.
Clearly the opportunity to show off New Zealand as a tourist destination to a royal hungry global audience is an extremely valuable one. Yet I'd have thought it was a two-way street; the tour is also a chance for the young royals to engage with their future subjects, display some relevance and potentially fend off the march of republicanism for just a bit longer. If this tour is worth huge sums of money to our country, surely it also holds a certain value for the visitors themselves.
It was recently reported that the Cambridges are "keen to portray themselves as 'modern' royals". It's doubtful as to how well they're achieving that goal so far because the same article revealed their "travelling party" will include two private secretaries, three press officers, a tour secretary, a hairdresser, a personal assistant, an orderly, a nanny and a former diplomat.
Arriving with an entourage of 11 helpers is about as conducive to being viewed as "modern" as expecting New Zealand taxpayers to fund their junket. They'd look a lot more current if they stumped up for half the cost of their own trip. Perhaps they might even be inspired to pare back their bloated "travelling party".
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