Key family arrives for weekend at Balmoral

JOHN HARTEVELT
Last updated 10:14 21/09/2013

Key family arrives for weekend at Balmoral

John Key
MAN OF THE HOUR: John Key arrives for a meeting with the Queen.

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Security was tight as Prime Minister John Key and his family arrived for their weekend with the Queen at Balmoral.

Key was unable to give away any details ahead of his visit but said it would be a barbecue or a black tie dinner, during their stay.
Either way, Key his wife Bronagh, and children Stephie and Max would be well prepared, having bought evening wear before the visit.

Waiting press were only able to film the Prime Minister and his wife arriving at the royal summer home, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Formal greetings with the royal family were held behind closed doors.

Key said he would be kept up to date on progress in the America's Cup races but was not sure what the programme at Balmoral Castle would entail.

"It depends a bit, I guess, on whether it's the BBQ or the black tie dinner tonight."

Key said he did not think another New Zealand Prime Minister had been invited to the castle before and it was unclear whether another leader from a Commonwealth nation - apart from Britain - had been there before. He will be joined by wife Bronagh and their children Stephie and Max for the weekend.

"It's a great honour, it will be a great thrill to go there and it's a particular privilege to be able to bring the family," he said.

"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity."

British Prime Minister David Cameron had told him to expect some formality but also some downtime.

"It's apparently very beautiful with a range of things that we can do so tomorrow we'll be out on the estate and we'll have a look around."

Key has a formal audience with the Queen tomorrow. He said she was "very knowledgeable and passionate" about New Zealand.

Key said he would make it clear to the Queen that New Zealand would be represented at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka next month, despite a likely boycott by Canada.

The Queen is said to be concerned about the continuing strength and relevance of the Commonwealth.

Key said he could "not definitely say" her concern was behind the invitation for his visit Balmoral Castle.

"I can say that the British Government has been very committed to try and reinvigorate the Commonwealth."

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