Town goes barking mad for Charles and Camilla


Babies, corgis and a little boy dressed as a guardsman were sights that greeted the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall when they toured a picturesque New Zealand town.

Thousands of people from Nelson turned out to greet the royal visitors and among them Charles spotted the breed of dog made popular by the Queen.

The heir to the throne could not resist walking over to the owner Hannah Petley, 43, and and saying hello to her dog, aptly named George.

She said afterwards: "Charles said, 'Is he a friendly corgi?' and when I said he was, he put his hand down and George licked it."

The royal couple went on a walkabout in the centre of the town in a region famed for its vineyards and stunning scenery and coastline that attracts British tourists.

Well-wishers lined the streets waiting to greet Charles and Camilla, who shook the outstretched hands. The Duchess even gave one person a high five.

George Thompson, 10, who dressed up as a guardsman complete with a replica scarlet tunic and bearskin hat, said of Camilla, who stopped to have a chat: "She's very nice and she's very beautiful."

Camilla played peekaboo with five-month-old Jake Johnston as his mother Lorna, 36, held her son.

Ms Johnston, originally from the Wirral, but now living in New Zealand with her partner, said: "She came up and said, 'Who's this friendly little boy?' and she made him smile by playing peekabo, which was lovely as he'd been grumpy this morning." 

Later Charles put on a white lab coat to learn about developments in the world of algae and invertebrates as he explored sustainable seafood at Nelson's Cawthron Institute.

He looked through microscopes at algae used to produce antioxidants, chuckled at the appropriately-named mutli-coloured algae disco, saw baby snapper and heard how Cawthron and research company Plant and Food Research were working towards making the seafood industry sustainable and clean with the ever-increasing population.

He even saw the first female scampi bred in captivity in New Zealand and in honour of the royal visit, Cawthron named her Camilla, which was met by laughter.

Charles was shown Camilla the scampi through a video link and when he asked how large she would grow, staff told him she would get to be about 120 grams. He was invited back to see her in her later life.

The Prince also took an interest in the two-day old mussels buzzing about under a microscope and their fully-grown counterparts sitting on display nearby. He asked a number of questions about their growth, diet and life outside the lab, and finally whether they were eaten raw.

Scientist Serean Adams responded they were best steamed - "with a bit of wine", she added, laughing.

Outside the research centre the Prince met his former nursery nurse Jacqui Castleburgh, 94, who is now being cared for at a nursing home across the road from the research centre.

Charles stopped to chat to the elderly woman who was sitting under a tree and clutching a card that had been signed by Charles and his siblings Anne and Andrew.

He affectionately touched her on the arm as they briefly said hello and asked if she was keeping well.