The Salem News
---- — WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, arrived in New Zealand Saturday for a six-day visit marking the Diamond Jubilee of his mother, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.
The couple, who flew from Australia on the last leg of their three-nation Pacific tour, arrived at a New Zealand Air Force base near Auckland to a welcome from a brass band and Prime Minister John Key, accompanied by his wife, Bronagh.
Elizabeth is head of state of the country, a former British colony. Support for the monarchy remains strong in New Zealand, according to a survey of 1,000 people taken by Television New Zealand on the eve of the visit.
It found only 19 percent of those surveyed favored the country ditching the monarchy to become a republic, down from 25 percent in a similar poll four years ago. An overwhelming 74 percent want to retain the queen as head of state. The remaining 7 percent were unsure.
Although Charles has been to New Zealand a number of times — including with his former wife, Princess Diana, and their first-born son, William, when he was a baby — it is Camilla’s first visit.
Their first official engagement was to attend a service commemorating Armistice Day 1918, which ended hostilities in World War I.
More than 100,000 New Zealanders served overseas during World War I, at a time when the population was about 1 million. More than 18,000 died and 41,000 were wounded.
The royal couple laid a wreath on behalf of the queen and then met New Zealand veterans of World War II and later conflicts, including Vietnam, at the museum.
Their tour will also take them to Wellington, the small agricultural town of Feilding and the earthquake-ravaged South Island city, Christchurch.