Dinner date with the Prince Charles

By Abi Thomas

Wellsford man Derek Hollis would usually go out for dinner to mark his birthday.

But today his special celebration won't be a slap-up meal at the local restaurant - he and his wife Jane are dining with Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.

The royal couple's New Zealand tour this week coincides with the Prince's 64th birthday, and as such 64 of his November 14 "birthday twins" from around New Zealand will join him tonight at the Diamond Jubilee Birthday Party in Wellington.

New Zealanders with the same birthday as Prince Charles were invited in early September to apply for the chance to attend the Government House bash, and Mr Hollis's name was one of the 64 to be drawn by Governor-General Sir Jerry Mataparae - from more than 1500 applicants.

"I got home from work and my wife said 'You know those two days we wanted to get away ... well we've got an opportunity to go to Wellington.' I said what's in Wellington? She said 'Dinner with Prince Charles' and I said 'what, you can't be serious'?"

The Hollises were heading down to Auckland Airport this morning, and had been asked to be at Government House by 4pm today.

Mr Hollis said he knew he shared the Prince's birthday before the opportunity came up to celebrate with him.

"Ever since I learned he had the same birthday as me, I guess I've been a bit interested in Prince Charles," he said. "But I wouldn't call myself a royalist."

"All I know is that there'll be champagne, and there'll be other dignitaries there."

Guests have specifically been asked not to bring gifts for the Prince, but what would Mr Hollis give him if he had the chance?

"Probably something that's Kiwi ... Kiwis like the water, so being a boatie myself probably something to do with the water."

- Northern Advocate

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