Nau mae, haere mai to Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, who arrive in Aotearoa for a whirlwind tour of the country today.
They land in Auckland then head to the Bay of Islands, Christchurch and Kaikōura before the Duchess heads back to Britain and the Prince goes on to Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands.
I'm pretty sure this will be business not pleasure for the Prince. I don't think he clicks with Kiwis as a people.
In an infamous letter, leaked some years ago, the Prince moaned to a friend during his 1981 visit that New Zealanders were constantly making "kindless, fallacious remarks about falling off horses" – a reference to a tumble he'd taken during a polo game.
He added that he was struggling to find the enthusiasm to get up in the morning given the amount of nonsensical rubbish he was being subjected to day in, day out and said that if one more child asked him what it was like to be a prince, he'd go demented. He finished on an ominous note: "It all increases my determination to make them laugh out of the other side of their faces one day."
Crikey! Surely he can't throw the entire population of New Zealand into the Tower when he becomes King. Perhaps he meant he'd sack us from the Commonwealth. Whatever. Suffice to say, the Prince is a professional and he will turn on the charm and be a good prince and an entirely suitable stand in for his mum while he's here, no matter what he might think of us all privately.
I've always felt a wee bit sorry for him. It hasn't been easy to be the heir apparent. You would have thought, following the hash the Crown made of Princess Margaret not being able to marry the man she loved, that they'd have made a better choice of wife for Charles. As history showed, that marriage was an abject disaster apart from the production of an heir and a spare, and Charles does seem to be a doting dad.
When you look back at photos of Charles in his "Playboy Prince" days, he looks exactly like Harry. Especially in the photos where he's sporting a beard. And Charles, like Harry, was quite the lad in his time. I'm always amazed when people who say they are monarchists suggest it would be a good idea for Prince William to leap frog his father when Queen Elizabeth dies. Assuming that one day she does. She looks to be in rude good health, both mentally and physically, and may well prove to be the exception to the rule that death awaits us all.
Surely, if you are a supporter of the institution of the British Royal Family, you would understand that monarchs aren't chosen by popular vote or by how photogenic their family happens to be. There is a strict protocol surrounding succession and Prince Charles will be the next King of England - a destiny he's been waiting to fulfil his entire life.
Must be odd to know that you can only assume your birth right when your mum dies. Until then, you're just pootling along, filling in time, making yourself useful. Like visiting the far flung reaches of the Commonwealth on behalf of your mum, because at 93, Her Majesty can't really be expected to make a 36-hour journey no matter how comfortable it is up the pointy end.
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And I'm glad he is. I know there are some people who are ambivalent about the royal visit, but I like being part of the Commonwealth. It's like being part of an anachronistic old club.
There may come a time when the club shuts down – when Commonwealth member nations feel like leaving the past behind – but many Māori feel they have a special relationship with the Queen and many of us are descended from British men and women. Being a part of the Commonwealth and having the heir to the throne visit gives a young country a direct link with a very old history.