Birthday a regal affair
Birthdays are always a happy occasion and a special milestone to reach.
And Val Baker will be doing something a bit more extraordinary to mark hers this year.
The West Harbour resident will fly to Wellington with a friend on November 14 to spend her special day with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.
"It will be a very special birthday and a great start to perhaps a good year," she says.
"It'll be wonderful."
Prince Charles will celebrate his 64th birthday in New Zealand on November 14 and mark it with a party at Government House.
Invited guests at his exclusive party include 64 New Zealanders also celebrating their birthdays, including Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae.
New Zealanders whose birthday fell on the day were asked to apply for an invitation to the party.
Ms Baker never expected to be chosen.
"It was purely by chance and one of those things that just happened.
"These things always happen to other people, so I got a big surprise when my name was drawn. It was quite a thrilling moment," she says.
"Do you say happy birthday to a prince? I don't even know what to call him."
Ms Baker and her lucky guest Maureen Berthelsen have been friends for many years and have celebrated a number of birthdays together.
"Maureen's son lives in Japan and will be celebrating his birthday on November 14 as well. We will have a quiet toast to him," she says.
Ms Baker has always had an interest in Prince Charles.
"I guess because we're birthday soulmates, and we're born under the same star sign, you do follow people that are born the same day as you."
Ms Baker is interested to learn if she and Prince Charles share similar interests and personality traits.
"I'd just like to have a chat about general things. I wonder if he cooks his own breakfast, or does he make coffee for Camilla in the morning? I'd love to know the simple things that they never let the public know," she says.
Fellow West Auckland resident Fiona Knight is also among the lucky guests.
She's excited about meeting the prince and has always found the royals fascinating.
"I've always known I share a birthday with Prince Charles, which is very cool and it's fabulous to be a part of this event," she says.
She will be celebrating her 37th birthday and will head to Wellington with her husband and 6-month-old daughter for the occasion.
She has a few questions she would love to ask Prince Charles if she could.
"I'd love to know what the best piece of advice he could give to William would be," she says.
"I'd also like to ask if he became king, what kind of a world he would envisage for my daughter when she grows up."
The prince and duchess will arrive in New Zealand tomorrow for their six-day tour to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
The 64 attendees were selected from more than 1500 applications.