The 2012 tour of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall is unlikely to see a repeat of the prince's last visit, when he slipped away from official engagements to catch up with an old mate in Kerikeri. Prince Charles' 1994 itinerary included the February 6 festivities at Waitangi, but he was determined not to miss his old Navy friend Dick Ryan while he was in Northland.
When the royal party landed at Kerikeri airport most of the delegation headed off to Waitangi, including then-Prime Minister Jim Bolger and Governor-General Cath Tizard, while the prince's limousine and police escort shot off down Kerikeri's Inlet Rd instead. Mr Ryan recalled how the prince's shiny black limo had turned grey by the time it reached his home at the far end of what was then a metal road.
They had dinner together and a good old chinwag before the old Navy mate had to revert to the role of touring prince.
Mr Ryan said he first met Prince Charles when they were serving in the Royal Navy. The former Lieutenant Commander and his late wife Sue knew the commanding officer of one of the ships the prince served on and the captain of the other, so invited Prince Charles around for dinner whenever he called in to the Navy base at Portsmouth. They had kept in touch ever since, Mr Ryan said.
However, royal-watchers need not lie in wait along Inlet Rd.
Mr Ryan moved to Havelock North in Hawke's Bay two years ago and had no plans to meet his old friend this time. As a pilot for Coastguard Air Patrol he could have met the prince at an official function in Auckland, but thought someone else from Coastguard in Hawke's Bay should have the chance.