Royal watchers no fuddy-duddies

BRITTANY MANN
Last updated 06:39 01/04/2014
Royalists
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ

ROYAL FANS: Members of Monarchy New Zealand Chloe Oldfield, 21, and Pita Roycroft, 18, are excited by the royal visit.

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New Zealand monarchists are no longer the decorative-plate collecting, tea-towel toting, fuddy-duddies of yore.

Chloe Oldfield, the vice-chairwoman of Monarchy New Zealand, is just 21. She is excited about next week's royal tour by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and said many young people were similarly enthusiastic.

There had been a "huge resurgence" in the popularity of the royals, the Wellingtonian said.

Being able to relate to the younger generation of down-to-earth royals, such as Prince William and Catherine, was a driving force.

Their wedding in 2011, and the birth of their son, Prince George, last year, had generated further warmth towards the monarchy, Oldfield said.

Over the past two decades, the royal family has made a conscious effort to modernise to remain relevant.

In New Zealand, the duke, duchess and Prince George will have a social media reporter with them.

They will tap into the younger generation by posting real-time photos, videos and updates on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook via GovGeneralNZ with the hashtag #RoyalVisit NZ.

In what will be Prince George's first official visit overseas, it would be important for the young family to "forge their own pathway" in their relationship with New Zealand, Oldfield said.

Prince William felt a strong affinity with New Zealand, having followed the 2005 Lions rugby tour and having visited Christchurch after its massive earthquake in 2011.

Pita Roycroft, another Monarchy New Zealand member, predicted the royals' humanity, rather than their celebrity, would prompt New Zealanders to turn out in droves to see them.

The visit was a "great chance for New Zealand to get to know them a bit better", the 19-year-old Wellingtonian said. "Where I'll be when they're here, is where they are."

In the leadup to the tour, Oldfield was seeing "a real buzz which will only increase". "It's comforting and pleasant to see that people are taking an interest in the monarchy. I'm excited."

WHERE TO SEE THE ROYALS

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and wife Catherine, with baby Prince George, arrive at Wellington airport's military terminal at 11.30am on Monday, April 7.

The public can view the family travelling along the bays to Government House, near the Basin Reserve - but be warned, they're in a limo, not an open-top car.

A better option for Wellingtonians is to see the royals when they return at the end of their trip, on April 16. Then, they will drive along Willis St at 11.15am and take a public walk through Civic Square about 11.30am.

Disability access: Wheelchair users and people with limited mobility will be given priority spots. Wellington City Council said room would be set aside for people with disabilities, as on previous tours.

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- The Dominion Post

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