Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Red carpet rolled out for royal couple

Veteran organiser chooses special events to appeal to royal couple's interests.

Michael Chilton.
Michael Chilton.

He is the go-to man for anyone wanting to organise official events - and they don't come much bigger than a royal tour.

Michael Chilton, director of the 2014 Royal Visit Office, is visiting the eight centres hosting Prince William and his wife Kate before they even touch down on New Zealand soil.

From his Wellington-based office he has visited Auckland, Hamilton, Cambridge, Blenheim and Dunedin and will head to Queenstown and Christchurch later this week to complete the tour, and finalise planning, security and media coverage with the host groups.

Mr Chilton, a former Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade diplomat, will be calling on his other experiences of hosting dignitaries - including heading the Diamond Jubilee Visit Office when the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visited in November 2012.

His largest event was heading the Apec meetings in New Zealand in 1999 where 21 world leaders attended.

"I think this is going to be a landmark visit, not least because of the international popularity of the Duke and the Duchess.

"And what that brings with it is absolutely huge international exposure.

"So New Zealand will be on show not just to the Duke and Duchess but to a large international and national audience," Mr Chilton said.

About 150 international and local media were expected to cover each event.

He said the events were not as traditional as those attended during previous royal visits and had been chosen to appeal to the couple's interests as well as showcase innovation and sporting success.

"We need to develop events that meet the aims of helping to inform the Duke and the Duchess more about New Zealand life, but also perhaps getting some publicity about the aims and goals of the event partners and why they are important in New Zealand."

He thought the Duke of Cambridge was hoping his enthusiasm and affinity for New Zealand would rub off on his wife and son Prince George, who had chosen New Zealand for their first official visit as a family.

"It is going to be the first of what I think will be quite a few visits over the years and a good scene-setter."

The Duke and Duchess will be travelling with a small entourage including private secretaries and security personnel.

Mr Chilton will be joining them on the tour and acting as counterpart to the Duke's private secretary.

Kate and William's diary

• Monday, April 7 - Wellington
Arrive at Wellington Military Terminal. Welcome ceremony at Government House.

• Wednesday, April 9 - Wellington
Plunket nurse and parents' group hosted at Government House.

• Thursday, April 10 - Blenheim/Wellington
Visit Seymour Square War Memorial in Blenheim and Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. State reception at Government House.

• Friday, April 11 - Auckland
Visit RNZAF Base, Whenuapai and Viaduct Basin. Match-race sailing of America's Cup yachts on Waitemata Harbour.

• Saturday, April 12 - Waikato
Duke visits Pacific Aerospace, Duchess visits Rainbow Place children's hospice. Visit Cambridge.

• Sunday, April 14 - Dunedin/Queenstown
Service at Cathedral Church of St Paul, The Octagon. Attend youth rugby tournament at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Arrive Queenstown, visit Amisfield Winery. Shotover Jet trip.

• Monday, April 14 - Christchurch
Visit CTV memorial park and 2015 Cricket World Cup event. Visit Wall of Remembrance at Wigram Air Force Museum.

• Wednesday, April 16 - Wellington
Visit Police College and Civic Square. RAAF flight to Sydney.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 26 Dec 2014 08:00:48 Processing Time: 205ms