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Fans Cheer As Prince William Arrives At Supreme Court

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Prince William. Pic: NZPA
Prince William. Pic: NZPA

Wellington, Jan 18 NZPA - Even some protesters among a 1000-plus crowd were charmed by Prince William as he did a walkabout after officially opening the new Supreme Court in Wellington today.

His fans shouted out "we love you William" when he arrived at the building, and drowned out a noisy group of Republican Movement protesters who unfurled a banner stating "It's time for a republic".

The demonstration was to highlight that New Zealanders were capable of choosing a head of state of their own, the movement's chairman Lewis Holden said.

"Prince William might be a nice guy, but it should be a New Zealander, chosen by New Zealanders, opening our highest court of appeal," he said.

After the opening ceremony two Public Service Association members protesting for court staff to have better pay were among those to meet the prince during his walkabout.

One of them, Neil Raeburn, said it was exciting to see Prince William, who asked him if he was wearing sunblock.

"He is very thoughtful," Mr Raeburn said.

Another PSA member, Tania Walkin, said hello to the prince and shook his hand.

"He is very down to earth, he is just like us," she said.

The prince asked to have his photo taken with eight-year-old Laura West.

He then asked another supporter why they were not at work.

Eight-year-old Elliotte O'Brien handed the prince a picture she had drawn of two princesses and asked him to pass it onto his girlfriend Kate Middleton.

Prince William thanked Elliotte for the gift and said he would pass it on.

Security guards inspected the envelope holding the picture before passing it to him.

Hugo Kinnaird, 13, offered the man who is second in line to the throne some advice to help maintain relations with both the public and his younger brother, Prince Harry -- "don't be mean to gingers".

Hugo's mother Joanne told Prince William she had seen him in Auckland when he was just a baby.

"What a lovely man you've grown to be," she told him.

Seeing Prince William today was "worth the wait and the sun", Mrs Kinnaird said.

The monarchy was "wonderful for New Zealand", and she felt a sense of pride that Prince William may represent New Zealand as king in future.

Leah Therkleson said the experience of meeting the prince was fantastic.

"I love him, I love him, I love his mother," she told NZPA.

Seventy-four year old highland dancing exponent Shirley-Anne Thompson, of Wellington, told the prince she had danced for the queen in 1953 and he asked her to do a quick highland dance.

"Very good," he told her.

Earlier the prince was draped in a traditional flax-weave Maori cloak before being welcomed into the Supreme Court with a haka.

Prince William was performing his first official duty for the Queen by opening the court, an edifice that represents another severed link between New Zealand and "mother England".

The permanent home for New Zealand's highest court replaces the London-based Privy Council.

The new court, diagonally opposite Parliament, consists of two connected buildings -- the 1881 High Court and the new, modern interpretation of it. Construction took just over two years and, at a cost of $80.7 million.


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