Key, Prince Charles chat about royal wedding

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 07:13 29/04/2011
ROYAL CHAT: Key and Prince Charles talked about fishing quotas, conservation, sustainability and preserving heritage buildings in Christchurch.
Reuters

ROYAL CHAT: Key and Prince Charles talked about fishing quotas, conservation, sustainability and preserving heritage buildings in Christchurch.

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Britain is going mad for Royal Wedding tat - and even Prime Minister John Key has got a Wills and Kate mug.

Key confessed yesterday he has succumbed to royal fever and bought some shortbread. Wife Bronagh got him a souvenir mug.

He said he'd bought the shortbread "and some other bits and pieces. But no tea-towels.''

Yesterday he was at Clarence House to see Prince Charles, where preparations for the wedding of the century are reaching fever pitch.

Naturally the pair talked about the big day - Key has a prime spot in Westminster Abbey for the ceremony - but royal rules mean Key can't divulge too much.

When they met at Winsor Castle on Tuesday, the Queen let slip some wedding secrets - but Key was remaining tight-lipped.

''I know one fascinating fact the Queen told me, but I can't tell you. An interesting tidbit,'' he said.

Prince Charles wasn't giving much away - Key is in the dark about where the royal couple will honeymoon.

''I wished him the very best for the big day tomorrow and it was a privilege to see him the day before his son gets married,'' he said.

Key had just received a letter from the couple, thanking New Zealand for their wedding present - a donation to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal. ''[it said] they were looking forward to seeing us tomorrow.''

Key and Prince Charles talked about fishing quotas, conservation, sustainability and preserving heritage buildings in Christchurch.

His charity Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment is having talks with the Prime Minister's Department and hopes to offer assistance to save damaged historic places.

''There's a great knowledge and history in the UK and I see no reason why we shouldn't put the two parties together.''

''It was a good conversation,'' Key said. ''It's the first time I've met him. He was thoroughly charming and he has a great interest in New Zealand. He did everything he could to be inviting to me. He was meeting the Australian Prime Minister [Julia Gillard] after me, and also the King of Tonga.''

The pair also talked about New Zealand's wool industry - Prince Charles uses his influence to push the fabric as eco-friendly an fashionable and was delighted with Key's choice of wedding outfit.

''I told Prince Charles I was wearing a wool merino suit. It was a bit of a line-ball call about whether I went with either a lounge suit or a morning suit...over here a lot of people wear morning suit. But I thought it was an opportunity to promote New Zealand.''

Key's last official duty before the nuptials is talks with British Chancellor George Osborne at No 11 Downing Street, where he will press for a reform of the air passenger duty. The long-haul tax will impact severely on New Zealand's tourism's much-need British market.

His souvenir purchases will add to the expected $1 billion tourism and retail boost to the ailing British economy.

When Prince Charles and Diana Spencer married in 1980, the memorabilia was limited to coins, plates, cups and tea towels.

But stallholders on the streets around Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace are hawking everything from Wills and Kate masks to tea trays.

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And it seems everyone wants a bit of Royal protection - with Crown Jewels condoms a best seller.

Taste is clearly no barrier - there is 'Kiss Me Kate' beer on offer along with Viagra "Royal Virility" Beer.

Shelves in the tourist gift shops are groaning with tacky knickknacks and stores have begun cutting their prices in order to offload stock.

For under $10, there are shot glasses, ashtrays, ceramic bells, thimbles and even puppets. Red, white and blue flags and bunting are selling like hotcakes.

At the higher end of the scale, matching china swans from Royal Crown Derby are a whopping $1225.

And if all this is a bit nauseating - there are even Royal Wedding sick bags.

- Stuff

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