Kiwis excited to celebrate with Prince Charles

By Hana Garrett-Walker, Corey Charlton of Hawke's Bay Today

Sandy Holder always joked that if Prince Charles became king, her birthday could be a public holiday - but this year's birthday might just top that.

The Havelock North woman will be celebrating her 47th birthday a bit differently this year, along with 63 other New Zealanders.

The 64 New Zealanders have been chosen from a ballot to join Prince Charles on November 14 to celebrate his birthday, and theirs, together at Government House in Wellington.

Ranging in age from 18 to 101, the lucky New Zealanders will spend an evening toasting their birthdays with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

And since it is his 64th birthday - and Governor-General Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae's birthday - it was decided that 64 New Zealanders who also had the November 14 birthday should share in the celebrations.

Mrs Holder, who found out on Saturday she had made the cut after about every one in six eligible New Zealanders applied, said she threw her name into the ballot because she thought it would be good story to tell.

"Right when I was a child I always said one day my birthday would be a public holiday, when he was king, but that's never happened," the PGG Wrightson administrator said.

She said she did not consider herself a royalist, but always knew she shared the birthday.

She had not yet thought about what she would wear to the event, and would worry about that once she received her official invite.

Auckland nurse Rosie Willis, who will be celebrating her 56th birthday, said she applied because she thought it would be a bit of fun.

And while she did not consider herself a royalist either, she was looking forward to seeing him up close.

"I think it was said that you'd get the chance to have a couple of words with him, it'll be very nice to see him up close and personal."

Billy Stackhouse from Ashburton will turn 18 on November 14, making him one of the youngest to attend the party. The oldest will be turning 101 that day.

Billy's mum suggested he apply after seeing the opportunity on television. Up until then, he didn't even know he shared his birth date with the prince.

Also celebrating his 18th birthday at Government House will be Napier teenager Charles Chittenden.

Although Mr Chittenden admits to not knowing a lot about his namesake Prince Charles, he is expecting it to be a posh "tea and scones" event and is looking forward to it.

"I'm really excited, I can't wait to go. Hopefully I get to speak with him, I actually don't know what I'll chat to him about. I reckon he will be quite nice, he just looks like a nice person."

Another who was chosen from the ballot was New Zealand citizen Leonard Cheah who lives in San Diego in the United States.

Ashburton District Council parks and recreation worker Elizabeth Brown will see in her 50th birthday with Prince Charles.

"I heard about it on the radio and thought it sounded like a good thing to do, because I'm going to be 50 and it's kind of a special birthday, but I didn't know what I was going to do," she said.

Prince Charles will also meet Sir Peter Jackson and get a sneak preview of the first instalment of The Hobbit, as well as tour Wta Workshop in Wellington, it has been reported.

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will visit New Zealand from November 10-16 after visits to Papua New Guinea and Australia.

- Additional reporting Ashburton Guardian


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