Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Royal family to visit NZ next year

Kate Middleton, Prince William and their son, Prince George.Photo / Jason Bell
Kate Middleton, Prince William and their son, Prince George.Photo / Jason Bell

Prime Minister John Key confirmed there could be a Royal visit next year but he would not confirm it would be The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their baby son George.

However, he was certain that if it was them, he would not be taking them to a street in Auckland as Labour leader David Cunliffe challenged him to do at the weekend.

"That's really just the Leader of the Opposition not showing due respect to a Royal visit. That's a political issue and they don't come to New Zealand for political reasons, that's the metaphor he is trying to demonstrate there.

"They come to do a whole lot of different things and I wouldn't politicise their visit by taking them to a place I have been to during making a political statement.

Mr Cunliffe at his first Labour conference speech said Mr Key would want to invite the Royal couple to New Zealand "to bring its cutest member here for a long series of photo ops in an election year."

He challenged Mr Key to take them to McGehan Close, a poor street in Auckland used by Mr Key in Opposition to illustrate what he described as a growing underclass in New Zealand.

Australian media have speculated a Royal visit by the new parents Downunder is planned for early 2014.

Mr Key said there were protocols around royal visits in election year and they would be followed.

If a visit was close to an election, he would consult the opposition for bipartisan support.

"But if it happens well and truly outside the election, broadly is three months is how I would define it, then there is nothing new about that taking place and we wouldn't need bipartisan support."

In every election year for the past five election there had been a Royal visit to New Zealand.

The Queen came in February 2002; the Prince of Wales visited in March 2005; the Duke of York visited in 2005; the Princess Royal in 1999, 2002 and 2008; and the Duke of Cambridge came in 2005.

Mr Key said he may go the White House next year but that would depend on getting an invitation and being able to fit in with each other's schedules.

"If it's possible it would be great if it happens next year. But if it doesn't , it won't. It's no real big deal if it doesn't take place. But it's always good to have discussion. We've got plenty of things to talk about. Who knows where TPP will be at that point?"

He did not believe anyone would vote for him because they saw a member of the Royal Family turn up in New Zealand or because they saw the Prime Minister at the White House.

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