Prince looks forward to his birthday

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Arrest of veteran anti-royalist only black spot as couple welcomed by Auckland.

The Prince of Wales says he is looking forward to discussing his plans for "world domination" tomorrow with other New Zealanders born on the same day.

In a speech filled with quips during a cocktail event at Auckland's SkyCity Convention Centre, Prince Charles told an audience, including soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, chef Peter Gordon and the Topp Twins, that the highlight of his trip would be his 64th birthday party at Government House in Wellington.

Bronagh Key, the wife of Prime Minister John Key - who was also at the function - and the Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, also share their birthdays with the heir to the throne.

"One group will be of particular interest, namely those who were born on 14th November, an illustrious group which includes the Governor-General, Mrs Key and, er, me," the Prince said.

"I look forward very much to our joint birthday party on Wednesday along with 64 fellow Scorpios and to discussing our plans for world domination."

After addressing the audience in Maori, Prince Charles said he was delighted to be back in the country, this time with Camilla.

"She is already engaged in a crash-course in all things Kiwi. From yesterday's mihi whakatau to an encounter earlier today with Hairy Maclary.

"Sadly, bungee-jumping and zorbing didn't make it into our programme on this occasion. Instead, there will doubtless be other thrills and spills as we travel around the country this week and a chance to meet many more New Zealanders from all walks of life."

Dozens gathered in the rain to catch a glimpse of the royal couple outside SkyCity and roared in appreciation when the Prince gave a wave as he got out of one car in a fleet of silver chauffeur-driven BMW.

Students from West Auckland's Liston College welcomed the couple with traditional Pacific drumming.

Prince Charles said he was looking forward to visiting earthquake-stricken Christchurch.

"By the time my wife and I leave you later this week, we shall have seen much more of this vibrant and innovative New Zealand, both in town and country. We will take with us an impression of a country confident of its own identity and proud of its diverse origins, having strong traditions, but also confident about its future ... That national character has been most sorely tested recently in Christchurch, but in no way found lacking. I am so pleased that we shall be able to join Cantabrians on our last day and to salute their strength and dignity."

The event finished off a day of visits around Auckland for the royal couple. They took a wet, 40-minute stroll down lower Queen St, greeting people who had crammed behind barricades to see them.

The occasion was marred only briefly when police arrested a 74-year-old man near Britomart, and charged him with preparing to commit a crime, namely assault.

Officers identified the man as a known anti-royalist. The arrest happened moments before the royal couple arrived to greet the public.

The protester will appear in the Auckland District Court today.

Charles and Camilla toured the AUT Millennium building on the North Shore, speaking to athletes, researchers and some swimmers.

The couple also joined hundreds of school children for a performance of Hairy Maclary at Takapuna's Bruce Mason Theatre, singing along to the show. Prince Charles later joined staff from the Coastguard and surf lifesavers for a cup of tea..

At East Tamaki Primary School in Otara, the Duchess of Cornwall enjoyed a lunch of beetroot and fennel salad and carrot cake made by students. The Duchess had high praise for the meal.


Royal schedule

*The Prince and Duchess have no public engagements today.

*They travel to Wellington tomorrow, Manawatu on Thursday and Christchurch on Friday.

- APNZ, Fairfax NZ

- NZ Herald

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