New Plymouth nurse hobnobs with prince

Last updated 05:00 15/11/2012
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Prince Charles chats to guests at a Birthday bash in Wellington

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Rachel Buckley celebrated her birthday with Prince Charles in Wellington yesterday.

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A New Plymouth nurse who celebrated her birthday with royalty yesterday said Camilla was very pretty and Charles was rather short.

Rachel Buckley was one of 64 people invited to Government House in Wellington to celebrate their birthday with Prince Charles, who turned 64 yesterday.

"It was fabulous," Ms Buckley said.

"I was impressed with Camilla, she was really, really lovely."

But it was Prime Minister John Key's wife, Bronagh Key, who she was really taken by.

Birthday guests were allowed to select one of 64 individual cakes, each representing a taste of New Zealand, she said.

Ms Buckley, who turned 40 yesterday, said she chose a cake shaped as a tomato sauce bottle because it was "classic Kiwiana".

The royal couple, Mr Key and all other dignitaries at the event were friendly and easy to talk to, she said.

"Camilla is quite pretty and I didn't think she would be pretty and Prince Charles was quite little."

Prince Charles got into the spirit and hummed a few bars of The Beatles' When I'm Sixty Four at the party.

Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae, whose birthday was also yesterday, said hosting the prince on his birthday was the "icing on the cake" of the royal visit.

The idea to invite 64 Kiwis who shared the same birthday turned out to be an inspiration, he said, though he quipped that quite a few people tried to get on the guest list even if their birthday was on the wrong day.

"There was one person tried it on and their birthday was in March."

The success of the party spoke volumes about the genuine warmth New Zealanders had for the royal family, Sir Jerry said.

The prince was treated to a Maori rendition of Happy Birthday, followed by the English version. He then cut the cake while the band played When I'm Sixty-Four.

The cake was made up of 64 smaller cakes to create one large grid cake.

Images represented on the cake included a silver fern, jandals, hokey pokey ice cream and a tomato squeeze bottle. Each of the invited guests took home one of the cakes, with the prince also getting his own slice.

Green-lip mussel fritters, whitebait omelettes and kiwifruit pavlova were on the menu.

The oldest guest was Mary Crosby, who turned 101 yesterday. Fairfax NZ

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