Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Royals receive rockstar reception in Blenheim

Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, waves as she and Prince William attend a wreath laying ceremony and public walk in Blenheim. Photo / AP
Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, waves as she and Prince William attend a wreath laying ceremony and public walk in Blenheim. Photo / AP

The royal couple were greeted with a rockstar reception as the small town of Blenheim turned red, white, and blue to welcome the famous regal visitors today.

High-pitched shrieking and squeals of delight welcomed the smiling Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they stepped into the crowds.

Video: Royal walkabout in Blenheim

Up to 5000 people queued five-deep, waved Union Jacks and raised smartphones and tablets to get a glimpse of the famous pair.

There was a real sense of community, like an upbeat version of Anzac Day.

Some royal commentators remarked it was the biggest turnout for a royal visit by a provincial centre since Charles and Diana.

And the masses didn't go away disappointed.

After laying wreaths and paying respects to the fallen of The Great War, William and Kate met with old soldiers and heard their stories.

They then split up - William, with war medals displayed on the left lapel of his navy suit jacket going right, and Kate wearing wore a blue Alexander McQueen coat, cinched at the waist with pleats at the back, headed left to engage with those behind the safety barriers.

The polite yet excited crowd - young and old, kids hoisted onto shoulders, the industrious on small stepladders - shook hands and exchanged pleasantries with the royals.

See our gallery of pics from the royal visit to Blenheim

Some, like 7-year-old Isla Read, 7, came away trembling with excitement.

"My legs are shaking," the Springlands School Year 3 pupil said after the princess accepted a bouquet of flowers from her.

"It'll be something to remember the rest of her life," her beaming proud mother, Moira Maher.

They watched the royal wedding three years ago together and were delighted to see them in the flesh.


Marlborough Girls College student Isabella Chaytor-Waddy summed feelings up: "No one ever comes to Blenheim so we're pretty excited to see the royals." After a quick lunch and freshen up, the royal tour recommenced at the nearby Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.

If you're out spotting the royals, we want your snaps. Share them with us, including details of where you took the photo, here.

The flying Prince was in his element as film director Sir Peter Jackson gave him a personal guided tour of his incredible old warplane collection.

A 26 foot-long grey WWI relic, a Caproni CA 22, greeted the royal pair for the start of the tour.

"Oh wow, look at this!" a genuinely impressed Prince William exclaimed.

"This is awesome. How old is this?"

"1913," Sir Peter replied.

They met a World War II Spitfire pilot and took in the remarkable life-like exhibition of the infamous Red Baron's last flight.

At the end of the 30-minute tour, museum staff gifted Prince George a tiny vintage flying helmet.

"Oooh," Catherine cooed when she opened the gift.

More delighted throngs awaited them outside in the light drizzle.

They clapped and cheered and doffed their umbrellas as the engaging Prince sat in the cockpit of a Sopwith Pup biplane.

"It's perfect. Start her up," he said.

The crowd lapped it up.

"Kate, look at us!" one excited teenager yelled. Another shouted, "I love you," seemingly to them both.

The royals' motorcade soon whisked them away for a short flight back to Wellington, to regroup before the next leg of their tour to Auckland.

The Marlborough crowd slowly dispersed. They were all smiling.

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