Editorial: Give royals a jolly good time
Haere mai, royals.
This morning, at 11.30am, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge touch down at Wellington Airport for a nine-day New Zealand visit.
It's Prince George's first official trip anywhere, so he will be bouncing off the plane with excitement. Or exhaustion. Either way, prepare New Zealand's finest pureed kumara for the bonnie 8-month-old.
Prince William might remember the taste; he was famously here when he was about the same age, in 1983, with his father Prince Charles and mother Princess Diana. On the lawn of Auckland's Government House, he wriggled his way towards a Buzzy Bee toy and promptly popped one antenna in his mouth. Now that's national promotion you can't buy.
The royals have their schedule packed. They're sailing Team New Zealand yachts in Auckland, watching vintage aeroplanes with Sir Peter Jackson in Blenheim, and playing rippa rugby in Dunedin.
They also have more serious duties, like laying a wreath to mark the outset of World War I and touring Christchurch, where Prince William spent time after the 2011 earthquake.
For Wellingtonians, there's a chance to see the royal whanau this morning as they drive around the bays from the airport to the city. After that, they take a couple of days out of the limelight, to get over their jetlag, before tearing around the country. They'll be back next Wednesday to check on the Royal New Zealand Police College and take a stroll through Civic Square.
All these will be managed affairs, but there's no telling when the trio might need a breath of fresh air and a wander around.
If you do bump into George ordering a fluffy at the Chocolate Fish, or William having a pint at the Southern Cross pub, take a few hints from the missive sent out to MPs by Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae a couple of weeks ago.
If you want to be traditional, it's "Your Royal Highness" first, then "Sir" or "Ma'am" (rhyming with ‘jam') after that. At events, men should perform a "neck bow (from the head only)" and women should curtsy, though shaking hands is also a goer.
There's some question of how much the tour might cost humble subjects and taxpayers, but Prime Minister John Key says the global attention's worth the cash.
He might be right: the Daily Mail's coverage goes so far as to feature Kiwi attractions that the royals "won't have time for". Then again, it also talks of the "fabled city of Christchurch", a place of "mists and mystery", so maybe it's not a reliable guide.
Whatever - let the tour commence. Will we line the streets as in days of old? Will we hear George croak out his first word? Will we reflect on the long, important, sometimes impressive, now-controversial place of the monarchy in this country? Who can say?
As Lorde knows, we New Zealanders will never be royals, but these three still surely are. Whatever our disparate views, let's give the young family a generous welcome and a proper good time.
The Dominion Post