Royal fun in recovering city

19:25, Apr 14 2014
Catherine Duchess of Cambridge
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge boards her flight from Queenstown to Christchurch.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Olivia Paterson, Sam Paterson, Georia Voice (The Queen), Julie Voice, Tanyia Monk, Donna Baird, Jo Gardiner and Di MacDonald brave the cold in central Christchurch to give Prince William and wife Catherine a warm welcome.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Good vantage points were at a premium in central Christchurch, with these keen royals onlookers finding a spot on the city council building.
Royal tour in Christchurch
A royals fan gets her first photo opportunity of the day at Latimer Square.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Prince William and wife Catherine arrive in Christchurch refreshed after their night off formalities in Queenstown.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Wills and Kate fans who staked out the RNZAF terminal in Christchurch were the first Cantabrians of the day to enjoy a royal wave.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Royals fans gathered in Latimer Square in central Christchurch for hours before Prince William and wife Kate arrived.
Royal tour in Christchurch
The mark of a royal passenger.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Cantabrians gathered by the cardboard cathedral in central Christchurch where they hoped to get a glimpse of Wills and Kate.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Ngai Tahu formally welcomed Kate to Christchurch outside the city council building where she had a hongi with kaumatua Rik Tau.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Prince William sat with interpreter Kura Moeahu as he and wife Catherine were welcomed to Christchurch.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Royal fans looking to pass the time while waiting for Wills and Kate at Latimer Square were treated to some underarm bowling from Sir Richard Hadlee.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Prince William and Kate met with families of people who died in the Christchurch earthquakes.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Kate spoke with wheelchair-bound Marie Cochrane, whose son Stephen died in the Canterbury quake. She said "it was wonderful" to meet the Duchess.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Wills reportedly described the cardboard cathedral as "beautiful" as he headed inside.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Prince William and Kate met with church staff inside the Transitional Cathedral as a choir sang Hine e Hine.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Stacked eight rows deep in Latimer Square, people pushed their way forward to meet Kate, with many offering gifts for baby George.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Will was bemused by the mothers showing him what it was like having two children.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Prince William wasn't shy to have a bowl on the makeshift pitch in Latimer Square. His first ball was a wide, but after a few words from NZ cricket great Sir Richard Hadlee, he found his target.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Latimer Square was a heaving throng of people as thousands gathered for a chance to meet Wills and Kate.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Prince William took his chance to hold the ICC Cricket World Cup - an event New Zealand will co-host with Australia in 2015.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Kate was up to the challenge too - ignoring the fact she was wearing skirt and heels - taking the bat to face her husband's bowling.
Royal tour in Christchurch
It wasn't all pretty stuff from the Duchess, though she did hit two of the three deliveries bowled by Wills.
Royal tour in Christchurch
The crowd had hoped for some big hits from Kate.
Royal tour in Christchurch
It was Wills who managed to strike it hard, hitting several deliveries high into the air. No fielder was able to claim a royal catch.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Like his bowling, Wills probably needed a few batting pointers after attempting to cross-bat a bouncer one-handed.
Royal tour of Christchurch
Back to the formalities in Christchurch and Prince William and wife Kate share a laugh before formally opening the Botanic Gardens visitor centre.
Royal tour of Christchurch
A group of mothers to twins met with Prince William in Latimer Square.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Those heels made it tough for the Duchess in the field.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Her shoes didn't hinder her throwing skills, however.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Among the thousands of fans out in Christchurch to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was the Wizard.
Royal tour in Christchurch
There were moments of form for the Duke though.
Royal tour in Christchurch
At the Botanical Gardens Wills and Kate got an inside look at some exotic plants.
Royal tour in Christchurch
The Botanical Gardens' glass house was a spectacle in itself.
Royal tour of Christchurch
Royals fans gathered outside Christchurch's Botanical Gardens to grab a glimpse of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Duchess of Cambridge was inspiring a new generation with Brooklyn Flammer, 4, Anika Rudolph, 4, Kate Orchard, 4, and Mieke Shulz, 3, all knowing what they wanted to be.
Royal tour in Christchurch
There was high praise for Wills from Sir Richard Hadlee who commented: "It's not a very wide pitch, there was no warm-up, and he bowled with a jacket on. I was impressed."
Royal tour in Christchurch
Royal fans in Christchurch fly the New Zealand flag for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Royal tour in Christchurch
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pay their respects at the RNZAF memorial wall in Wigram, Christchurch.

It was simply a game of cricket on the village green, yet for Christchurch it symbolised so much more.

There was Kate flailing away with a yellow plastic bat, her high heels mitigating against making solid contact.

And there was Prince William bowling to her and going astray for the first time on tour, opening with a rank full toss that missed the Latimer Square pitch by a distance.

If village green cricket is the heart and soul of that oh so British game, this match was a sign that the most British of New Zealand cities was on the way back from its darkest day.

When William was last here, Christchurch had just been shattered by the 2011 earthquake, with 185 people dead, 115 of those in the CTV building, which is not far from Latimer Square.

On that visit he mourned and offered sympathy to those who had lost loved ones, or whose lives were in ruins. It sealed his place in Kiwi hearts.

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This time he paid tribute to the city’s resilience, but also had fun smacking boundaries around the square that tended to human misery as a first aid centre in the aftermath of the disaster.

Kate, too, ensured there were links to the past by wearing a red Luisa Spagnoli outfit, which she first trotted out at St Andrew’s in Scotland, three days after the tragic news from Christchurch.

It was in Canterbury colours. Red and black did not transform her into a class cricketer, but she was composed enough – avoiding elegantly the full toss, blocking the second away to mid off, then allowed the third through to the keeper.

When she was wicketkeeper, possibly the most stylishly dressed in the history of the game, she showed no inclination to dive, allowing Wills easy runs down to the fine leg boundary. 

Cashmere primary school pupil Tim Cross, who fielded while the duchess was batting and bowled to the prince, pinpointed a technical deficiency in Kate’s batting approach.

‘‘It’s a little bit dangerous in high heels, but apart from that it was really good,’’ he said.

Tim was mocked by his friends when Wills carted his bowling to the boundary, unleashing a stylish cover drive.

‘‘I’m a bit gutted, but I’ll get him next time,’’ the 12-year-old said.

Knowing he was bowling to the future king gave him a few jitters, he conceded.

‘‘I didn’t really want to hit him in the head.’’ 

While the youngsters damned the prince’s bowling as ‘‘a bit rusty’’ and ‘‘a wee bit high’’, New Zealand cricketing great Sir Richard Hadlee made excuses for the wayward opening ball. 

 ‘‘It’s not a very wide pitch, there was no warm-up, and he bowled with a jacket on. I was impressed.’’

It was not all fun and games, far from it. For the first part of the day, Wills and Kate were the city’s most famous disaster tourists, taking in the CTV memorial and the Transitional Cathedral.

They got a more torrid tour than most, meeting people who lost loved ones in the quake. Among those they spoke to were the families of Jayden Andrews-Howland, 15, killed in a bus; Jane-Marie Alberts, 44, who died in the PGC building collapse; Dr Maysoon Abbas, 61, who died in the CTV collapse; and Ian Foldesi, 64, who was killed by falling rocks on the Port Hills.

Capping off the day and keeping with the tour theme of military services and aeroplanes, there was a military remembrance at the Wigram Air Force Museum.

There, the unveiling of a plaque marking the work of peacekeepers turned into another Kate vs Wills sporting contest.

Each grabbed a toggle at one end of the curtain and pulled, but it did not sweetly part to reveal the plaque, it jammed.

So turned into a tug of war, with first Kate ahead, then Wills fighting back. It wound up a draw, with an official stepping in to end the contest by opening it himself.

Today the royals take a break, after six straight days of engagements. Tomorrow they fly to Australia, after a visit to the Police College in Porirua, and a public walkabout in Wellington.

If big-hitting Prince William opts to play cricket there, he can expect a barrage of underarm bowling, given his Christchurch form.

Fairfax Media