Crowning glory for Christchurch

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 15/04/2014
Catherine
Getty

FLOWERS: Catherine was inundated with gifts, including a bunch of flowers made from balloons.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have vowed to return to Christchurch when the city is rebuilt.

William and Kate delighted crowds at several events during their visit yesterday.

Among the events, they met families of quake victims and played an impromptu game of cricket.

In a touching speech to about 500 people at the Air Force Museum in Wigram, William paid tribute to Cantabrians' resilience.

The duke last visited just after the deadly 2011 quake and said he was struck by Cantabrians' "adaptability" and ability to maintain their "classic Kiwi humour".

"Christchurch is a city which has chosen not only to survive but to thrive," he said.

"Catherine and I look forward to coming back to see how the city takes shape."

Earlier in the day, the couple thrilled the throngs who turned out to Latimer Square for the couple's final public walk of their New Zealand tour.

Kate stepped out in Canterbury colours, wearing a red Luisa Spagnoli outfit that made a visual tribute to the Christchurch earthquake.

She first wore the black-belted jacket and skirt in 2011 at St Andrew's in Scotland, three days after the deadly quake.

The couple split up to meet the exhilarated crowd, which was about eight rows deep.

Kate, in 7-centimetre heels, took the concrete path, while William took the grass.

Both were inundated with gifts for baby George, whom Kiwis have spoiled at every stop.

The tally for the wee prince includes pounamu, a sheep blanket, books, soft toys, clothes and, yesterday, someone handed William a buzzy bee.

In 1983, a 10-month-old William played with a buzzy bee toy on the lawn of Government House, when his parents, Prince Charles and the late Diana, visited New Zealand.

"That's cool," William said of the gift - the first buzzy bee of the trip, according to a tour official.

Tilly-Belle Robinson, 13, gave the duchess a book she wrote herself titled George meets the Kiwi.

"She said she would read it to George tonight. She's beautiful."

A boy gave William a neon green friendship bracelet, which he put on his wrist.

To a little boy eating a caramel egg William said, "Oh that looks really yummy, are you going to eat all of it? I love them."

A teenage girl with red lipstick pouted her lips for a kiss but the duke said, "oh, no" and laughed.

The walk followed a poignant meeting at the CTV site, where the couple met families of earthquake victims and the quake-injured.

The royals also stopped in to open a new visitor centre at the Botanic Gardens, where even 74-year-old Paddy MacFarlane climbed a tree for the best view.

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- The Press

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