What a welcome!
Prince William and Kate Middleton kicked off their royal tour in New Zealand Monday. Before he greeted the famous family on the tarmac, a proud Prime Minister John Key told his 107,000+ Twitter followers, "The Royals have arrived in Wellington. Let's make them feel welcome, New Zealand."
After touching down with Prince George (and new nanny Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo in tow), they headed to Wellington's Government House, where George watched proceedings from the window.
The Duke and Duchess received a traditional Hongi welcome from Maori elders Hiria Hape and Lewis Moeau, which involved pressing their noses and foreheads to the elders' noses and foreheads.
The Maori ceremonial welcome, also known as the Powhiri, included several speeches, as well as dancing and singing. The Duke then inspected a Guard of Honor before a 21 gun salute was fired.
Three tattooed male toa, armed with spears and wearing thongs, uttered war cries during one ritual. They performed an intricate and intimidating series of martial arts moves before one of the warriors offered William, 31, a rakau tapu (dart). He bent down to pick it up with his eyes fixated on the toa.
Following a haka powhiri (welcome dance), 32-year-old Middleton described the ceremony as "super."
Locals were eager to get a glimpse of the royals, who are on their first official visit since George's birth. Per press reports, one little girl said, "Kate is just so perfect. She is a proper princess. She said her hair was stringy because of the rain but it looked amazing to me. They said they were really excited to be in New Zealand and they were sorry they couldn't bring baby George outside but it was too rainy."
Middleton wore a Catherine Walker coat and a Gina Foster hat. She accessorized with a diamond brooch in the shape of a silver fern, New Zealand's national symbol, on loan from Queen Elizabeth II.
When the royal couple's trip was first announced, a Kensington Palace spokesperson said, "There is no hiding the enthusiasm for this visit by both The Duke and The Duchess. The Duke has no doubt that his wife will fall in love with New Zealand and Australia every bit as much as he did, some years ago."
William has visited New Zealand several times over the years, most recently just before his April 2011 wedding. At the time, he had decided to visit Christchurch to meet those affected by the earthquakes.
Before this trip, Her Majesty gave special permission for William and George to fly together, as two heirs to the throne seldom do. The Queen gave the same consent to Prince Charles when he made the same trip to Australia in 1983 with his then-wife, the late Princess Diana, and a 9-month-old William.
The royals will spend the next two days recovering from jet lag at a private residence. Their official engagements begin Wednesday when George meets other babies on the Government House grounds.