OPINION: Today the heir to the throne of New Zealand, HRH Prince Charles - and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall - arrive in Wellington. Aside from the usual formalities, and the fun of a 64th birthday party at Government House, the couple are lending their considerable profile to some important causes.
It will be exciting to see Charles and Camilla on a walkabout along our stunning harbour waterfront, providing an opportunity for Wellingtonians to meet their next king. But of even greater substance will be a royal visit to Weta Studios, the cornerstone of our creative capital and source of cultural output which earns billions for this country, on the eve of the release of the first film of The Hobbit trilogy.
As the world's "coolest little capital", as Lonely Planet described our city, Wellington will benefit from free overseas media coverage from this visit that our marketers could never afford to purchase on a paid basis. Prince Charles' leadership on environmental issues, such as the protection of endangered birds, gels perfectly with New Zealand's image of stunning landscapes which provide sanctuary for unique species, and our 100% Pure NZ tourism brand.
Prince Charles has a close affinity for the countryside and farming. His backing of the Campaign for Wool promotes the natural fibre as both sustainable and stylish. Wool is a key export commodity, shipments of which earned more than $795 million last year - up from $530m in 2009. Clearly being championed by Esquire and GQ Magazine's best-dressed man has impact. Similarly, the prince's Mutton Renaissance promotes new ways of serving the meat Charles describes as his "favourite dish", boosting consumption of our signature product.
It has been a tough year for our defence personnel, who have seen comrades killed or injured, and families who have lost loved ones. Six young Kiwis tragically died on duty in Afghanistan, with a further training casualty in September.
Having senior royals offer their respects helps grieving families' healing.
The visit also pays tribute to defenders of our freedom and democracy. Charles serves as air commodore-in-chief, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. In its proud history the air force helped save civilisation from authoritarian forces in World War II, and today undertakes important peacekeeping and disaster relief missions. A military officer himself, with both sons on active duty, Charles understands the importance of honouring our veterans.
This visit celebrates the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. So it is strikingly apposite that themes of showcasing our crucial agricultural, tourism and creative sectors; environmental protection; honouring our uniformed services; and acknowledging those who help the less fortunate underpin this tour. For these are causes that our monarchy has long supported.
Monarchy NZ joins Kiwis in welcoming Charles and Camilla, and wishing them a fantastic stay in Wellington.
Paul Foster-Bell is the vice-chairman of Monarchy NZ, and was National Party candidate for Wellington Central in the 2011 general election.
- The Dominion Post
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