Royal tour 'failed to boost monarchy'

SIOBHAN DOWNES
Last updated 05:00 14/07/2014
Reuters
LANDING PAGE: Prince William, his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and their son Prince George arrive in Wellington.

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Crowds turned out in the rain in their thousands to catch a glimpse of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but republicans claim the public got carried away and that the royal tour had little effect on support for the monarchy.

A poll issued by the New Zealand Republic campaign last week shows support for a Kiwi head of state has not changed since the same poll was taken in March, before the 10-day royal tour in April.

Preference for a Kiwi head of state remained at 44 per cent, while there had been a 3 percentage point swing towards the next British monarch to 49 per cent.

Seven per cent of respondents were undecided, compared with 10 per cent before the tour. The poll was carried out last month by Curia Market Research, based on a sample of 1026 respondents from a random selection of 15,000 land line phone numbers nationwide.

New Zealand Republic chairman Savage said he was not worried by the slight shift in support toward a British head of state.

"What we think happens is people get carried away looking at the popularity or interest people show in the royal couple, but that doesn't properly relate to what the head of state debate is about," he said.

The Department of Internal Affairs released last month the cost of the 10-day tour, putting the taxpayer bill at $1,035,000.

But Savage said New Zealand Republic's own monitoring showed the real cost was likely to be closer to $2 million. It had received extra costings from government departments such as police, defence and tourism, and local council spending.

Prince William and Catherine's visit was interesting only to royalists, he said.

"For the rest of New Zealand, no-one gets anything out of it. If you'd rather have a New Zealand head of state, then you don't want to see $2 million spent on a big publicity tour."

Monarchy New Zealand chairman Sean Palmer dismissed the poll. The royal tour was so popular it had disrupted phone networks as people shared photos and updates online, he said.

"You look at that and then somebody suggests support for the British monarch only went up 3 per cent? I think that's probably pretty unrealistic." 

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