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When male couple Ryan Tunstall and Jared Mullen signed on daughter Isabella to be part of the Plunket play date with Prince George, they probably didn’t realise what they had let themselves in for.
World media interest in George playing with his possible future subjects at Government House has been immense. The prospect of them meeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made headlines overseas, with gay news websites especially excited.
But despite the fanfare, yesterday’s Government House event was simply a meeting of 21 parents chatting while their children played, Tunstall said.
‘‘I think the duke and duchess are lovely first-time parents, and I think as first-time parents, in many ways they’re in the same boat as all of us who are trying to get used to it,’’ he said.
‘‘The whole day has been a highlight really, it’s just been a real privilege to share our babies with the duke and duchess, to have them share their beautiful one with us.’’
Baby Isabella played drums with George, who was not afraid to mingle with his subjects, Tunstall said.
‘‘He was a lovely little boy, he’s very intrepid.’’
The babies would have had little idea of the significance of the playdate, Mullen said.
‘‘I think most of the babies are oblivious to the occasion, just as it should be.’’ The couple showed their discomfort with the media glare a day earlier, though they were happy for Isabella to play and be photographed with the other babies at a meet-the-babies function at Plunket.
Journalists were told the pair had another engagement, and were unavailable for interviews.
They left early, their surnames and family photo were not among those released by Plunket, and they did not wish to talk when contacted by Fairfax Media yesterday morning.
Plunket media manager Zac Prendergast said the pair were uncomfortable with the interest in them the play date had generated. Isabella was not chosen because she had two dads, he said.
‘‘It’s not about the parents, it was about the babies – it was only when the parents got together that we discovered how diverse the parents were,’’ he said.
Mullen, from the US, and Australian Tunstall were chosen to represent the growing numbers of same-sex couples using parental support services, Plunket said.
Tristine Clark, New Zealand president of Plunket, described the parents selected as representative of New Zealand communities ‘‘including Maoris, Samoans, people of Chinese descent and gay couples. We wanted the Duke and Duchess to meet people from all backgrounds.’’
In Britain, The Telegraph newspaper reported it as ‘‘meeting the royal visitors will be gay fathers Jared and Ryan Mullen and their daughter Isabella. Jared, from Oregon, US, and Ryan, from Australia, were chosen to represent the growing numbers of same-sex couples in New Zealand who use Plunket’s parental support services.’’ Websites Gay Star News, Gays With Kids and Examiner.com also featured the story.
The 10 families were a mix of six girls, and four boys, of European, Maori, Samoan, and Chinese descent.
- Fairfax Media