Big Cambridge welcome for royal couple

CAMBRIDGE UNION: Cambridge Chamber of Commerce CEO Raewyn Jones waves the Union Jack outside the town hall.
CAMBRIDGE UNION: Cambridge Chamber of Commerce CEO Raewyn Jones waves the Union Jack outside the town hall.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will make a flying visiting to our own Cambridge.

The royal couple announced their tour of New Zealand last year and Kensington Palace confirmed they would make four stops in Cambridge and Hamilton on April 12 for their one-day sojourn.

The news prompted the town to begin preparations - chamber of commerce CEO Raewyn Jones said the streets would be packed.

"I don't think there is anywhere in New Zealand that's going to go off as much as Cambridge," she said.

They prided themselves as a "very English" town and local residents had a penchant to get in behind royal events.

When the royal baby Prince George Alexander Louis was born last July, they lit the town hall and clock tower blue to celebrate.

"It was just a big celebration for us because he is the Prince of Cambridge," she said. "We'll claim him as our own, we're not above that."

Prince William last visited New Zealand in March 2011 after the Christchurch earthquake but it would be the first visit for Catherine Middleton.

Waipa mayor Jim Mylchreest said the details had not yet been finalised but the visit to Cambridge was special.

"From a Waipa perspective, we are absolutely delighted to host the royals and particularly with that name association with Cambridge, maybe that's what swung it for us."

Prince William's first engagement will be with Hamilton aircraft manufacturer Pacific Aerospace, while the duchess, who is a patron of East Anglia's children hospices, will attend Hospice Waikato's Rainbow Place.

Pacific Aerospace chief executive Damian Camp hoped to unveil a new innovation in aircraft design on the day and said staff were keen to meet the prince.

"Everybody is really proud to be of interest to the royal party," he said. "We were lucky to make it on to the agenda."

Hospice Waikato staff were told of the news of Catherine Middleton's planned arrival immediately after Prime Minister John Key's announcement and CEO Craig Tamblyn said there was a lot of excitement.

Rainbow Place provides specialist care for children and young people to cope with life-threatening illness and the Royal visit coincides with the annual Gallagher children's party.

"Not only will she be able to look at the facilities that we've got, we are actually holding a party for children and their families on that day."

The official opening ceremony of the Home of Cycling Avantidrome would be a showcase of cycling in New Zealand and CEO Geoff Balme said it coincided with the royal visit in a "once in a generation" opportunity.

"They won't be here for the whole three hours, they'll only be here for 45 minutes but it will be a high point of the afternoon," he said.

Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker was pleased and proud that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would be visiting Hamilton during their tour. "This is very exciting for Hamilton," she said.

Prime Minister John Key says a planned visit by the royals to Turangewaewae Marae was canned, because Maori King Tuheitia wasn't happy with the amount of time the couple could give.

Waikato Times