Charles inspects troops

EMMA HORSLEY
Last updated 12:01 16/11/2012

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The royal couple were half an hour late to their final appointment in the Manawatu region at Ohakea Air Force Base but that didn't worry more than 300 air force staff and their families.

The prince arrived 15 minutes ahead of his wife after they attended separate appointments and got straight into the business of meeting and greeting.

Escorted by RNZAF chief Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell and commanding officer Captain Darryn Webb, Prince Charles made his way along the line of people.

The convivial atmosphere was broken only by a flurry of consternation as a decontamination shower was accidentally turned on.

Air Vice-Marshal Stockwell said it was a great end to the air force's 75th anniversary celebrations.

"To have our Air Commander in Chief here is a great excitement for us. We send him six-monthly reports and he has a genuine interest in what we do."

He said it was a great boost for families to be able to meet the royal couple and he was pleased there was such a strong turnout.

Fiona Graham said the Duchess of Cornwall confided in her that she preferred to travel by boat rather than plane but conceded that it was faster to get around that way when on a whistle-stop tour.

Wing Commander Barry Nelson said it had been well worth the wait to come and see the couple and said they were adept at putting people at ease.

Bella, 5, and April Riddle, 3, were very excited to meet a "real live princess" and their mother Erica Riddle said they had talked about meeting the duchess for days.

"I mean what little girl doesn't want to meet a princess?"

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- Manawatu Standard

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