Newest royal to head to New Zealand

Last updated 22:34 22/09/2013

Prime Minister John Key meets the Queen in Balmoral.

Prince George
PRINCE GEORGE: The latest addition to the British royal family.
John Key Balmoral
Claire Trevett
GREAT HONOUR: John Key arrives at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, for a weekend visit with the Queen and other members of the royal family.

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Britain’s newest Royal, Prince George, appears set to make his first trip to New Zealand next year.

British media reported yesterday parents William and Kate had applied for a baby passport and planned to tour New Zealand and Australia on Prince George’s first international outing.

News of the trip emerged as Prime Minister John Key and family wrapped up a trip to the Royal’s summer retreat at Balmoral, in Scotland.

While Key has refused to say whether Kate and William were there, British newspapers reported the couple had flown there with Baby George earlier and planned to stay there till the end of the week.

The Daily Mail reported the Queen, Prince Philip and Prince William were spotted enjoying a grouse shoot on Friday, the same day the Key family were due to arrive.

They were each seen driving their own 4x4 vehicle through the moors of Balmoral, the Mail reported.

The Queen's car bonnet was customised with a model of a silver dog carrying a grouse in its mouth, it said.

The Mirror said William spoke about the tour of Australia and New Zealand earlier this month.

It would mirror a visit 30 years ago by William and his parents Charles and Diana when he was nine months old, the Mirror said.

The Queen is expected to give the green light for George to fly on the same plane as his parents, despite Royal protocol that dictates an heir and the next in line should not fly together, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, John Key and Queen Elizabeth seized on the topic of conversation most people turn to in awkward social situations during their formal meeting at Balmoral  Castle today - the weather.

"I hope you haven't been too cold?" the Queen asked.

"No it's been absolutely beautiful. It's a magnificent property. It's a great privilege to be here," Key responded.

Key has been a guest at Balmoral with wife Bronagh and children Max and Stephie over the weekend and  among the many things they packed for were clothes for the cold. Balmoral is notoriously chilly and its bedrooms are said to be heated by two-bar electric heaters, though having a maid or valet on call for every house guest presumably makes the job of finding a hottie or an extra blanket easier.

Their other packing consisted of outfits for a range of outdoor activities, dinner suits for the men and floor length gowns for the women.

Key has met the Queen on a number of occasions though that will not excuse him or the family from the strict etiquette expected of Balmoral's  house guests.

Shaking hands, picking up the royal baby or even addressing the royals by their first name are social no-nos.

During their two days at the Highland retreat, the Keys will be enjoying lunches with the Queen and long horse treks through the undulating countryside if previous trips to Balmoral by New Zealanders are anything to go by.

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The Balmoral estate, which now covers about 20,000 hectares, was purchased by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1852 and remains the monarch's private property.

Every August, September and October the royal family visits and the estate is closed to the public. At other times people may visit the gardens and the largest room in the castle, the Ballroom.

The Keys leave Balmoral early tomorrow NZ time.

- Sunday Star Times

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