"He's a very sweet, bonny little baby."
Prime Minister John Key and family have wound up a weekend with the Royal family at Balmoral Castle - including a brush with baby Prince George.
Key, who has now arrived in Paris for the next part of his trip, said he and his family had enjoyed an "extraordinary experience" over a weekend at the castle.
"We had a fantastic weekend where we were invited in as guests in their family, private time," Key said.
Key played a round of golf, losing on the last hole to a group led by the manager of the estate. Daughter Stephanie went hiking and son Max was part of a shooting party. The Key family was also personally driven around the estate by the Queen.
New parents Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, were also at Balmoral over the weekend, along with their baby son George.
Key said he had seen Prince George, but in keeping with Royal protocol, had not had the chance to hold him.
He spoke to the couple about visiting New Zealand and told them they would be "most welcome".
"That is subject to their diary. I know that the duchess is very keen to come to New Zealand - she hasn't been before," Key said.
It was "fairly obvious" that Prince William and his wife were "stepping up to take more responsibility" and that included visits abroad, he said.
"Yes, they will be travelling but exactly where they go and the timeframe under which they might come to New Zealand is not yet determined."
As gifts, Key gave the Queen a blue pearl brooch from a Christchurch company as well as a case of premium New Zealand wines. He also gave Prince Philip a bottle of Shackleton's Whiskey.
Key added that Prince Philip, who has had a recent spell of ill-health, seemed "in remarkably good health".
"They are extremely active," he said.
The weekend was not all fun and frivolity, however. Key spent an hour in a formal audience with the Queen on Saturday evening, local time.
He said their conversation had been very wide-ranging, including the situation in Syria and a number of domestic issues in New Zealand.
The Queen continued to receive a lot of letters about the Christchurch recovery, particularly regarding the Cathedral and the recovery more generally.
Key said he had "helped fill in the gaps" on the Christchurch recovery.
The Queen had also asked about the New Zealand economy and they had discussed the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting to be held in Sri Lanka in November.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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