NZ gets royal visit to celebrate Queen's jubilee

By AFP, Herald Online staff

Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, are to visit New Zealand next year as part of Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Buckingham Palace has announced family representatives will make official visits in 2012 to all 15 countries outside the United Kingdom of which Queen Elizabeth is sovereign.

The Prince of Wales will also visit Australia, Papua New Guinea and Canada.

In what is likely to be the most high-profile part of the itinerary, William - the queen's grandson and second in line to the throne - will travel with Catherine to Malaysia, Singapore, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

The tiny Pacific nation of Tuvalu has not had a royal visit in decades. When the queen and her husband toured it in 1982 they were carried shoulder high by islanders into the capital Funafuti as they sat in canoes.

Prince Harry, William's younger brother, will meanwhile make his first solo trip overseas on behalf of the queen, touring Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas.

Prime Minister John Key welcomed the news of Prince Charles' visit.

"I am pleased New Zealand will be able host the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations," Mr Key said.

The Prince of Wales last visited New Zealand in 2005. This will be the Duchess of Cornwall's first visit here.

The time of the visit and the places the pair will visit is yet to be formalised.

The queen, 85, and her husband Prince Philip, 90, will remain in Britain but will travel as widely as possible throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the palace said.

The world tour adds to events at home in Britain marking the jubilee, including a massive pageant on the River Thames involving up to 1,000 boats and the lighting of beacons across the country.

Elizabeth is the second longest-reigning monarch in British history, after her great-great-grandmother queen Victoria, who reigned for more than 63 years.

She became queen when her father, king George VI, died on February 6, 1952, while she was in Kenya on an official visit.

- AFP

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