Wellington (dpa) – Prince Charles may forgo a day off from official engagements during his tour of New Zealand to join in celebrations after the All Blacks’ victory in the rugby World Cup, Prime Minister John Key said Thursday.
Key told reporters that the prince wanted to personally congratulate the players and he expected he would attend a victory parade on Friday in the capital city Wellington.
Charles and his wife Camilla, who began a seven-day tour of the country on Wednesday, have been somewhat upstaged by the All Blacks who returned to the country just hours before the royal visitors landed.
The All Blacks are being feted at victory parades attended by thousands across the country.
The royals’ attendance at the Wellington parade has not been confirmed, news website stuff.co.nz reported.
The Prince of Wales drew laughter at a reception at Government House late Wednesday when he admitted to being relieved that the team had beaten arch-rivals Australia.
He said he had been slightly anxious about what he would find on his visit had the result gone the other way.
“Secretly I did think they were going to win all the time. How they do it, I don’t know. It’s a great demonstration of sporting prowess,” he said.
“By the time we get to Australia, hopefully they will have got over it,” he added.
The royal couple are due to leave for Australia on November 10.
In separate appearances on Thursday, Charles was greeted by a rousing haka from bare-footed pupils of a Wellington high school while Camilla was welcomed in song by staff and students at the national dance and drama centre.
The prince was dressed in a suit made from New Zealand wool to celebrate the launch of a mobile wool shed used to teach students about the natural fibre. The local “wool in schools” programme is part of the global campaign for wool education led by the prince, who is one of Britain’s most significant wool growers.
The Duchess of Cornwall, wearing a Bruce Oldfield dress and coat adorned with a Scottish thistle brooch, visited the colourful dance and drama centre Te Whaea with the governor-general’s wife, Lady Janine Mateparae.
Despite a lower public turnout on other stops of their tour so far, there was plenty of excitement in the South island city of Dunedin where Prince Charles and Camilla spent their afternoon.
The couple rode the historic Taieri Gorge tourist train into the central railway station where they were met by a crowd of around 1,500 people.
School children waved hand-made union jack flags, a group of students sung a rendition of the hit song Royals by New Zealand songstress Lorde, and an ecstatic Lesley Hayde, originally from Yorkshire in the UK, risked the ire of the security services to grab a kiss from Charles and a hug from Camilla.
The pair went on to visit the Orokonui eco sanctuary, home to some of the country’s rarest native wildlife, where Prince Charles held a tuatara, a lizard-like reptile, often described as New Zealand’s living dinosaur.