Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Thanks Ma'am for a grouse visit

The Keys, back in Aberdeen, (from left, Stephanie, Bronagh, John and Max) had earlier gone to Crathie Kirk for the Sunday service with the royal family. Photo / Claire Trevett
The Keys, back in Aberdeen, (from left, Stephanie, Bronagh, John and Max) had earlier gone to Crathie Kirk for the Sunday service with the royal family. Photo / Claire Trevett

Max Key went grouse shooting with Prince William and Stephanie Key went on a hike through the woodlands around Balmoral Castle with Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, during their family's stay at Balmoral.

As for their parents - Prime Minister John Key and wife Bronagh - the Queen herself took on the role of chauffeur to drive them around her estate on a guided tour.

The Key family have now left Balmoral after their two-day stay, and Max has returned to Auckland.

His father, meanwhile, has returned to active duty in France. He was to meet President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault late last night.

On the flight to France, he debriefed the Herald on the Balmoral stay - although he did hold back many details in keeping with the protocol that one does not blab about the goings-on of the royals while on their summer break.

He revealed Max had gone out with a grouse-shooting party with Prince William and some of his friends.

He said Max did not shoot, because although he could use a firearm he did not know the type used at Balmoral, "and they're very hard to shoot, the grouse".

Stephanie joined the Duchess of Cambridge and a group of other younger women.

Mr Key himself played golf on the Balmoral course, but was beaten on the last hole, which he put down to the local knowledge of the other side, led by the estate manager.

The Queen meets Prime Minister John Key in her Balmoral sitting room. Photo / Claire Trevett
The Queen meets Prime Minister John Key in her Balmoral sitting room. Photo / Claire Trevett

The family got to meet, but not hold, Prince George - "a very bonny baby".

Mr Key also saw the Queen's corgis, Holly and Willow, and some "dorgis".

"The corgis were everywhere. They were very friendly."

He would not reveal what they dined on, "but I was well fed".

At the barbecue on the Friday night, despite his recent surgery the Duke of Edinburgh took charge, cooking with help from another guest. "They all pitched in. We helped lay the table, all the guests helped. It must be the only bit of informality they really have in their lives. It's definitely an informal gathering."

However, there was some serious discussion. Mr Key had a long audience with the Queen, and said she had expressed interest in the rebuild of Christchurch. He said she still received correspondence about the rebuild, in particular relating to Christchurch Cathedral.

They also discussed international affairs, including Syria and the looming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka, where the Queen will be represented by Prince Charles.

FIT FOR A QUEEN:


Gifts for the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh:

* Prime Minister John Key personally selected the design of the blue pearl brooch he presented to the Queen as a thank you for the hospitality. Grown at the Akaroa Eyris Blue Pearl Farm, the selected 15mm pearl was named ``Aotearoa's pearl'' and was set in diamond petals and brushed gold koru, designed and made by Joachim van Oostrum.

* The Duke of Edinburgh was given a bottle of Shackleton's Whisky, made to be as close to the original Shackleton's Whisky as possible.

* For the Balmoral Friday night barbecue, various wines from most of New Zealand's grape regions were presented.

- NZ Herald

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