Royal couple charm Christchurch

By Fairfax, Rebecca Quilliam of APNZ

Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla arrive for a welcome at the Christchurch City Council building. Photo / AP
Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla arrive for a welcome at the Christchurch City Council building. Photo / AP

Forget William and Kate, it was Prince Charles and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall who received rockstar adoration during their trip around the country this week.

Today rounded out their royal week-long tour, taking in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Feilding and Christchurch.

This afternoon the royal couple toured Christchurch and watched as the shattered city continued the long process of rebuilding itself.

They inspected the central city red zone with a backdrop of tall buildings being demolished and dust, thick in the air.

About a thousand visibly excited locals looked past the destruction and quickly gathered to surround the couple, shake their hands and welcome them to Christchurch.

In Christchurch the couple showed off some moves at the Dance-o-mat, a makeshift dance space on Oxford Terrace.

Student Volunteer Army founder Sam Johnson took the Duchess for a spin on the dancefloor, and the Prince swayed onto the mat followed by Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker and his wife Jo Nicholls Parker.

The Prince danced with local resident Lisa Shannon, who said the moment "completed her destiny".

"I just asked him if he wanted to dance and he said 'yes'. If you don't ask you don't get. He was a beautiful dancer. Very nice.

"I'm still buzzing. My husband is a lucky man tonight."

Cantabrian Murray Ireland gave Charles a photograph taken in 1977 of the Dowager Duchess - a close friend of the Queen Mother.

"She taught Charles history and he told me he was very fond of her, so I gave it to him. He said 'thank you' and that he was very happy."

The couple also spoke in private with about 20 people who were seriously injured in the February 22, 2011 earthquake.

Charles and Camilla then headed to Oxford Terrace, where they met about 15 residents outside a badly damaged red-zoned house.

Prince Charles also gave a copy of the letter of condolence, sent to the people of Christchurch on the first anniversary of the February earthquake, to the city's Mayor Bob Parker.

The letter will be included in a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee time capsule to be buried at the Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Clock Tower in Victoria St.

Following their city stops, Prince Charles and Camilla attended the day's annual A&P Show, where again their presence was quickly noted and hundreds gathered to catch a glimpse, take a photo, or, if they were lucky, shake the hands of the Prince and his wife.

About 400 media were accredited to capture the trip to New Zealand, and royal security were tasked with the daunting job of ensuring the royal couple had space to breathe.

Quickly they herded media, like the livestock, at the A&P show.

The couple watched the Shetland Grand National and presented a ribbon to the Best in Show - an enormous steer.

During the presentation, the steer needed to relive himself. A royal official was heard to comment, "That's what we call the 'Royal Wee'."

Over the week, the couple attended about 40 engagements, including experiencing Maori culture, commemorating Armistice Day, attending a performance of Hairy Maclary, inspecting jet technology, meeting Weta workshop creations, visiting a farmers market, meeting family members of the Royal New Zealand Air Force and of course, celebrating a birthday.

Prince Charles has been wished a happy birthday all week, an official said.

Prime Minister John Key said the week was a success.

"I think they're having a fabulous time here in New Zealand and the crowds are enormously behind them, rightfully so.

"They're just enjoying what they're seeing."

On Monday anti-royalist Sam Bracanov planned to throw a bucket of sloppy horse manure at the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall before police thwarted his plan. He and a handful of others in Auckland appeared to be the only dissenting voices to the royal visit.

"Everyone else has come to meet them and celebrate the royal family," Mr Key said.

Diamond Jubilee Visit Office director Michael Chilton told APNZ that not only had the couple experienced different aspects of New Zealand, New Zealanders had had a chance to see different aspects of their future king.

He said the trip had gone without a hitch.

"From the Diamond Jubilee Office point of view, things have gone every bit as much as we'd hoped - and in many places a great deal more.

"I think you've got excellent crowd turnouts at all the possible venues."

Mr Chilton said so many people wanted to meet the couple and they were both genuinely interested in the people they met, often their schedule ran behind time.

"I think if that's been a problem, it's been a good problem. Both of them have been so keen to meet people and shake hands, that has dropped our programme back in time."

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will leave Christchurch tonight and stop off in Singapore on their way home.

They probably need a break.

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