Capital throws prince a party

MICHAEL FORBES, SAM BOYER, SHABNAM DASTGHEIB, PAUL EASTON
Last updated 07:18 15/11/2012

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There's no such thing as a Marmite shortage when you're heir to the throne.

Prince Charles celebrated his 64th birthday in lavish style at Government House yesterday, and the occasion was so special that the governor-general's head chef felt it warranted dipping into his private stash of yeast spread.

It meant the Prince of Wales' Kiwiana-themed birthday party was able to go ahead with Marmite and cheese scrolls on the menu, at a time when his loyal subjects are left lamenting the lack of the black stuff in their pantries.

Head chef Simon Peacock had to rely on Marmite donations from other staff to cater for everyone at the party.

Among those celebrating alongside Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, were 64 Kiwis who share the same birth date as the prince.

The youngest was Napier teenager Charlie Chittenden, who said he had always planned to have a massive pool party with "plenty of Double Brown and Tui" on his 18th birthday. But he was happy to swap a few beers with his mates for a glass of champagne with the prince yesterday, after his mother put his name forward.

"I told him I'd be out having a few pints later on if he wanted to join me. He laughed and said, 'Um, maybe'."

The oldest party guest was Mary Crosby, who ducked away from the Aotea Home in Johnsonville to celebrate her 101st birthday with the royals.

Her 75-year-old son Eugene said she was on top of the world after Prince Charles held her hand and wished her a very happy birthday.

"Sadly she cannot speak any more, but she had a great day."

Mr Crosby told the prince his mother had also attended the coronation of his grandfather, George VI, in 1937, while on her OE.

The prince was welcomed into the Government House ballroom by his hosts, Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae and his wife Janine, before being treated to renditions of Happy Birthday in Maori and English.

The prince hummed a few bars of When I'm Sixty-Four by The Beatles as he cut into his birthday cake, which was a collection of 64 smaller fruit cakes decorated with Kiwiana images, such as paua shells and buzzy bees. Each of the 64 guests got to take home one of the cakes.

The party was the final engagement for the royal couple on their visit to Wellington yesterday, which was part of their six-day New Zealand tour to mark the Queen's diamond jubilee.

Their day started at noon when Prince Charles opened the new Government House visitor centre, which is this country's gift to the Queen.

Thousands of people then sang Happy Birthday to the prince as he strolled with his wife and Wellington Mayor Celia Wade- Brown along the waterfront.

The prince, a long-time Tolkien fan, then headed to Weta Workshop in Miramar, where he was greeted by actor Mark Hadlow in dwarf costume before being shown around by workshop head Sir Richard Taylor and Hobbit film director Sir Peter Jackson.

"I can't tell you how grateful I am . . . [it is] the best birthday present I've had in a long time," the prince said.

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- The Dominion Post

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