Britain’s Prince William became Prince Charming on Sunday as he undertook the first official duties of his 11-day visit to New Zealand.
His first walkabout, after a wreath-laying commemorating the end of WWII, delighted the crowd of about 350 well-wishers, as the young prince wowed teenage girls, middle-aged matrons and grizzled war veterans alike.
“He’s certainly a Prince Charming. I wouldn’t mind a date if I was a bit younger,” said Terese O’Connor, 56. “He’s very glamorous and attractive.”
'Oh, it's so cool'
As the prince greeted a group of women outside the National War Memorial in the capital, Wellington, 19-year-old Rebecca Kennedy called out, “High five, William!”
William, 23, obliged, leaving Rebecca and her sister Olivia, 16, gasping with delight.
“Oh, it’s so cool. He’s gorgeous, beautiful. It’s so exciting,” Rebecca gushed after touching the hand of the second-in-line to the British throne.
A chilling wind didn’t diminish the warmth emanating from the crowd of well-wishers who waited nearly an hour outside the granite-clad memorial building, where cheers went up when William arrived at noon on Sunday in a gray suit and blue shirt.
He laid a wreath, paused for a moment of reflection at the tomb, then flashed the crowd a grin and gave a quick wave before moving inside the building to meet with war veterans as the memorials “Peace Bell” solemnly tolled.
“I was very impressed with the young fellow, who was ... very personable,” said Walter Fraser, 77, a decorated World War II veteran who also fought in Korea.
“A very handsome man. He’s as good as I thought he would be,” said Nan Cooper, 73. Her husband, Maurice — a Spitfire pilot in Britain during World War II — also met with the prince.
William, a rugby fan, watched as New Zealand’s All Blacks team beat the British and Irish Lions team 48-18 Saturday evening in their second test. New Zealand also won the first.
His other rugby engagements include an All Blacks’ training session on Monday, and lunch with the team on Tuesday.
The prince will also be guest of honor on July 6 at a primary school in the resort of Arrowtown on New Zealand’s South Island — where he will watch the self-styled “Arrowtown All Blacks” play a team from London’s Thomas Day School — before two days of skiing nearby.
Later, he’ll represent his grandmother, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, at a wreath-laying ceremony in the northern city of Auckland to mark the end of WWII — and New Zealand troops’ contribution during the global conflict.
The visit is the prince’s second to New Zealand. He came in 1983 as a 9-month-old with his mother, the late Princess Diana, and his father, Prince Charles.