Renwick man meets royals

Renwick man Grant "Mitch" Michalick slipped in a bit of flattery when he wished the Prince of Wales a happy birthday yesterday.

"I told him he was looking very sharp," Mr Michalick said from Wellington last night after their combined birthday party at Government House.

"He said it was an Italian suit made from New Zealand merino and he didn't feel at all comfortable wearing it, but he was glad he looked good in it." It was Prince Charles' 64th birthday. Mr Michalick turned 42.

Governor-General Sir Jerry Mataparae was also at the party, and the Prime Minister's wife Bronagh. It was their birthdays, too.

Mr Michalick had been invited as one of 64 New Zealanders to help the prince mark his birthday.

The guests were arranged in groups and the prince and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwell, mingled after they arrived with the Governor-General and Lady Mataparae.

Mr Michalik said the prince had chatted to him before moving around the circle to the next person, then returned to speak to him again.

"He's just another bloke having a yarn with you," he said.

It had been a memorable, magic way to spend his birthday, he said.

Mr Michalik and his partner, Fiona Patreick, wound up their celebrations with dinner at Logan Brown, where Prime Minister John Key had also taken Mrs Key for birthday dinner.

The huge birthday cake cut by the prince was made up of 64 smaller cakes. Kiwiana images on the cake included a silver fern, jandals, hokey pokey ice-cream and a tomato squeeze bottle.

Each of the invited guests took home one of the cakes, with the Prince getting his own slice.

The nibbles included green lip mussel fritters, whitebait omelettes and kiwifruit pavlova.

The royal couple are in NZ from November 10-16 to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

The Marlborough Express