Did fog stop test run for visit?

Test runs for the visit of Prince William and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, next month are under way, but Marlborough residents will be hoping the real thing runs more smoothly.

Officials were tightlipped yesterday and declined to confirm stories that an airforce 757 plane had to turn back from Woodbourne Airport on Tuesday because of fog while on a practice run for delivering the royal couple.

Royal tour media spokesman Allen Walley said he had no information about yesterday's flight.

However, he was sure that on the day the royal couple were to fly to Blenheim, April 10, it would be "another lovely day in Marlborough" and the extremely weather-dependent programme would run like clockwork.

On that flight was likely to be Prime Minister John Key, who was escorting the couple, and Opposition leader David Cunliffe and Defence Force chief Tim Keating.

The couple's first public event would be a wreath-laying ceremony at Seymour Square, where 100 invited Returned Services Association members would participate. The wreath was to commemorate those lost in all wars, he said, but this year was the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, so that would be included in the ceremony.

After that, the royal couple would do a walkabout in Seymour Square to meet the public.

Their next appointment was a tour of the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, escorted by Sir Peter Jackson who stores his World War I planes at the centre and has donated Weta Workshop expertise to the exhibits.

Some of the centre's aircraft would be outside on the airfield, and the public could see the royal couple while they inspected those, Mr Walley said.

"It's very much weather-dependent. Everybody's got their fingers crossed that the plane will be able to get in, that it will be another lovely day in Marlborough."

Marlborough mayor Alistair Sowman said there was a huge amount of interest about the visit around the town.

Members of the public would have access to Seymour Square itself during the wreath-laying ceremony, although space would be limited. The roads surrounding Seymour Square would be closed to traffic for the duration of the ceremony.

"It's intended that a walking path will be cordoned off and we hope there will be at least a short opportunity for the royal couple to walk through the gardens. However, we anticipate that this will be a brief interlude and only a few people are likely to get the opportunity to exchange words with them."

Mr Sowman said people may be hoping to catch a glimpse of the couple as their motorcade comes into town from the airport or travels out to Omaka.

The Marlborough Express