Informality and sport characterise start of Prince's first official tour

Mike Waites

Prince William yesterday spoke of the importance of his first official tour on behalf of the Queen and his hopes of living up to the standards set by his grandmother.

The second-in-line to the throne described how deputising for the monarch in New Zealand was important to him.

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But he dashed speculation the landmark visit to the South Pacific islands would herald more tours, saying he had a lot more training to do for his military career as an RAF search and rescue pilot.

William’s comments were made as he toured the 110m redeveloped Eden Park stadium in Auckland which will host next year’s Rugby World Cup final.

The start of the three-day visit was marked by its relaxed atmosphere and lack of formality demonstrated by the 27-year-old Prince’s casual clothes.

The engagements also followed the same theme – with William spending his first day visiting two sporting events. He played catch with a group of young schoolboy rugby players and sailed a yacht off Auckland.

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William said: “It’s great being here, I did come about four and a half years ago – had a great time here.

“This is obviously a bit more official, although still enjoying the fact it’s reasonably relaxed, and I just love seeing everyone and seeing more of New Zealand, so it’s great.”

Asked about the significance of deputising for the Queen, William replied: “It means an awful lot because obviously she’s extremely busy and I want to be able to do something good and keep the standards up that she’s led the way with.”

Asked if this was the first tour of many to come, William said: “We’ll wait and see, I wouldn’t get too carried away.

“I’ve still got a lot of training to do and I need the training, believe me.”