Royal visit: A prince, a dwarf and a birthday

It's not every day you get to share your birthday with a prince, let alone over 60 other people who share the same birth date as you.

A Kiwiana-themed birthday was held this afternoon at Government House for Prince Charles and 64 Kiwis who were born today.

Prime Minister John Key's wife Bronagh and Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae also celebrated their birthday today.

Prince Charles turned 64 today and was thrilled to hear the Beatles classic When I'm 64, played by the Royal New Zealand Air Force Band and sung by opera singer Margaret Medlyn.

He bopped along to the famous tune, and pulled a face when the line "will you still need me, will you still feed me" was sung.

Sir Jerry said hosting the Prince on his birthday during the royal visit was "the icing on the cake".

He said the idea to invite 64 Kiwis who shared the same birthday had ended up being an inspiration.

He joked that quite a few people had tried to sneak into the ballot selection for the birthday bash, even when their birthdays were on the wrong day.

"There was one person who tried it on - their birthday was in March."

The Prince was treated to the Maori version of Happy Birthday, followed by the English version.

It wasn't the first time he had been sung Happy Birthday today; many people who lined the Wellington waterfront earlier had broken out in song.

The birthday cake was Kiwiana-themed and was made up of 64 smaller cakes to make a larger grid, allowing each of the 64 guests to take their "slice" of the cake away with them.

The cake was decorated with Kiwiana icons - a buzzy bee, sheep, gumboots, jandals, paua shells, fantails, pavlova with kiwifruit and a giant lamington.

Paul Roberts of Wellington celebrated his birthday today with the Prince, and said if he hadn't been at Government House he would have been out diving for paua or crayfish on Wellington's south coast. He said the oysters at the birthday bash made up for it.

"It's the first time I've had a birthday quite like this. I had a chat to Prince Charles, it was really nice.

"I'm a big fan of the environmental work he does and mentioned that to him. He was surprised I had heard about it. He said he was scared it was getting a bit late and people need to really start acting and look after our environment a bit better," said Mr Roberts.

Billy Stackhouse from Ashburton turned 18 today and said he talked to Prince Charles about finishing school this month.

"It was a very good birthday present," he said.

Elizabeth Brown, 50, also from Ashburton talked to the Prince about the earthquakes in Canterbury.

"It was awesome to celebrate my birthday with Charles and Camilla. Government House was a wonderful place to celebrate your birthday," she said.

Elizabeth King from Palmerston North celebrated her birthday and brought her mother Susan Brader from Masterton with her. She said the cake was delicious.

Guests dined on green lip mussel fritters, whitebait omelettes with buttered rewana bread and Marmite and cheese scrolls.

The oldest guest, Mary Crosby from Ngaio, turned 101 today.

Earlier in the day Prince Charles was shown around Wellington's Weta Workshop by Hobbit director Sir Peter Jackson and Weta head Sir Richard Taylor.

Actor Mark Hadlow, who plays the dwarf Dori in the upcoming film, spent two hours getting into costume and make-up, including a prosthetic dwarf nose, for Prince Charles' visit.

Hadlow was completely in character when Prince Charles entered the room, kneeling down on one knee before the royal.

"I offer myself at the request of Sir Peter Jackson for you to command as you see fit, your servant Dori," he said.

A beaming Prince Charles was clearly amused by the gesture.

"I can't tell you how grateful I am - the best birthday present I've had in a long time," he said.

Hadlow jokingly replied he had to dress up or he would "get beaten by Sir Peter".

- APNZ

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