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NZ royal tour: Style wins out in difficult conditions

KEVIN NORQUAY
Last updated 05:00 08/04/2014
What Kate's Wearing
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DAY 10, WELLINGTON: Kate wears a skirt-suit she wore back in April 2012 that was crafted by Wellington-born designer Rebecca Taylor. She accessorised with a super cute puppy.

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Trust Wellington's weather to blow even more drama into the royal tour, with a water-laden southerly drawing a frown from wee Prince George, then exposing his mother's regal legs.

Had the 8-month-old prince been asked and been able to answer the age-old question posed to tourists, "what do you think of New Zealand so far, mate?" he might have replied "yukky".

"One is not amused," was written across his face as he got his first salty blast from a Wellington sea breeze, emerging from the RNZAF aircraft nestled in his mother's arms.

Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, had problems of her own as she descended the stairs toward her first footfall on New Zealand soil, fighting to keep her dazzling red coat and dress from flying asunder.

Alongside her, Prince William proved a master of New Zealand conditions; he's been here before, and was unruffled by the misty mayhem.

For much of the morning, low mist that disrupted air travellers threatened to divert the royal trio to Ohakea, more than two hours away by road.

In the end all it did was delay their arrival by about 20 minutes, which must have felt much longer for the several hundred royal watchers lining the airport fences in the rain.

It could be the rousing cheer they emitted when the princes and duchess stepped into view was due simply to relief they were no longer doomed to perish from hypothermia in a bleak industrial area.

More likely it was they were instantly captured by the elegant charm of the duchess, the leg-wriggling cuteness of the bare-headed Prince George, and Prince William, whose love of rugby and Christchurch visit after the 2011 quake have sealed his place in Kiwi hearts.

If you were a reality TV judge tasked with voting one of them off the tour, you'd be in a tight spot. En masse, they may have just embarked on one of the most popular royal tours in New Zealand history.

One thing's certain though, Kate wouldn't be voted off first. In real life she lives up to the people's princess image, a smile that cut through the drizzle, and a sense of fashion that drew "ohs" from onlookers.

"She looks lovely in her red, even in this weather," royal fan Edna Hurd observed.

Kate's red was a double-breasted coat, by French label Catherine Walker, whose designs were favoured by Princess Diana, William's mother who brought him to New Zealand as a toddler in 1983.

In another nod to tradition, Kate wore a diamond and platinum silver fern brooch that was a Christmas gift from the Women of Auckland to Queen Elizabeth on her 1953-1954 tour.

Her hat was a bright red pillbox designed by Gina Foster, her shoes by British label Emmy, according to fashionistas.

Whatever, Kate pulled a difficult day off with style. At Government House, where the family is based, she was smiling and fearless when faced with a bare-buttocked Maori warrior.

Even with an entourage to primp and preen, it was no easy task flying from Britain for upward of 25 hours with a toddler.

To those of us who've endured cattle class, it sounds so easy. Plenty of leg room on the plane, a bed, and when you land no queue at the passport line; no nervous wait at quarantine; no suspicious looks at immigration, and a limo instead of having to hail a taxi.

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But commoners don't have to look perfect when they get off the plane, knowing news media cameras are waiting to record messy hair, or bags under the eyes.

And they can slink off home to bed, dodging a tarmac meet and greet with Prime Minister John Key and Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.

No wonder the royals are having today off to recover.

- Fairfax Media

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