Claire Trevett

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

Windy welcome for royal visitors in Wellington

Baby at window fools George fans in cameo appearance.

William and Kate step off the Airforce plane yesterday with baby George.
William and Kate step off the Airforce plane yesterday with baby George.

It was inevitable Prince George would overshadow his parents on the royal visit but nobody expected it to happen at the first event ... especially when the baby in question was not George at all.

As his parents put on a sterling display of the British stiff upper lip in the rain for a 30-minute official welcome at Government House, many eyes were instead focused on an upstairs window where the unmistakable shape of a baby was putting on a cameo performance, peering out, banging on the pane and yanking at the cord for the blinds.

It was not George but an accidental stunt double: the baby of a visiting family member of Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae.
Video: Raw: Welcome to the Duke and Duchess

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As for the Duchess of Cambridge, her introduction to New Zealand was in Wellington's wind.

Dressed in a flared dress and trying to hold Prince George, the stair railing, her hair and her skirts all at the same time, she had to give up on at least one, and so showed a little more royal thigh than the Queen might have approved of.

She kept calm and carried on, undaunted by the rain during the ceremony at Government House and rejecting the offer of an umbrella.

Her first hongi was given the stamp of approval by kaumatua Lewis Moeau, who said officials had checked whether the couple were willing to hongi and both had agreed.
Video: Royals arrive in NZ

He said she approached it with a gentle touch of the nose, and told him she had heard about the ceremony and had been looking forward to it.

Although there was a fair degree of tattoo art on display among the warriors, Catherine managed to keep her eyes on their faces while talking to them.

Mr Moeau said William - now an old hand of powhiri - had also asked several questions about haka and the ceremony.

The former Royal Air Force pilot also stopped to chat to the woman who performed the karanga, who was from the RNZAF.

Catherine wound up her initial charm offensive by delighting a group of sodden school children who had waited patiently to see her. She took her time talking to each of them, despite her husband moving ahead more quickly to meet Sir Jerry.
Video: Royal visit: UK tabloids fume

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Perhaps her greatest achievement was managing to walk across the soggy Government House lawns in stiletto heels without getting bogged down.

The couple will have a day off at a secret hideaway near Wellington before the engagements begins tomorrow when Prince George will make his debut at a Plunket event.

Prime Minister John Key will meet the royals again on Thursday for a visit to Blenheim followed by a formal meeting with Prince William after Labour leader David Cunliffe has also met the Prince. There is some sensitivity over the timing of the visit in an election year, and George is one baby Mr Key can't kiss without a parental invitation.

He might want to try for the stunt double instead.

Welcome brightens the day

Timeline of William and Kate's arrival in New Zealand yesterday

• 12.04pm RNZAF Boeing 757 touches down at Wellington Airport
• 12.10pm Plane taxis into position outside the military terminal
• 12.16pm Doors open and Kate, with George, and William step out before meeting dignitaries
• 12.35pm (approx) The royal motorcade leaves the airport
• 12.45pm Motorcade passes crowds on Oriental Parade
• 12.48pm Motorcade arrives at Government House
• 12.51pm Kapa haka group begins powhiri
• 12.59pm Rongotai College students perform a haka
• 1.05pm Prince William inspects the guard of honour
• 1.12pm The couple meet local school children
• 1.17pm The royal couple retire to Government House.

- NZ Herald

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