The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a solemn wreath laying ceremony in Blenheim on Thursday morning.
The couple took a short flight from Wellington to Blenheim, Marlborough for the ceremony, paying respect to the New Zealand forces that fought in the First World War.
After laying the wreath, which bore the message: ‘never forgetting those who paid the ultimate sacrifice’, also signed by Will and Kate. The couple stood in silence after hearing the Last Post. The almost 7,000 strong crowd also paid their respects through the silence, and Prince William was clearly moved by the ceremony, having been a part of the Armed Forces, and his brother Prince Harry having served twice in Afghanistan.
William and Kate then spoke with veterans of WWII, who fought alongside the Allies as part of the Commonwealth. One veteran, Wilton Sterritt, 90, showed The Duchess a picture of him and The Duke of Edinburgh at the Commonwealth games in held in Christchurch in 1974, to which she replied ‘You’ve changed a lot!’.
The Duchess wore a bespoke cornflour blue Alexander McQueen coat; the colour was possibly chosen for its use within the New Zealand forces, as a mark of respect. The coat was knee-length, with a peplum feature, belt above this, and a collar. She also wore a poppy pin, navy pumps and carried a black suede clutch, her hair tied back for the sombre event.
The Duke wore another dark suit, a poppy pin, and two medals on his breast. They were from his grandmother, The Queen, for her Golden and Diamond Jubilees.
After the ceremony had finished, it was time for the couple’s first walkabout. The new parents had said before the tour they wanted to meet as many people as possible, and a walkabout was a great way to do this. Splitting off on both sides of the crowd, The Cambridges set about their charm offensive, speaking with people, young and old, shaking hands.
The Duchess, seen only yesterday interacting with small babies around the same age as Prince George, bent down to speak to those smaller members of the public, taking posies of flowers. She was also handed a purple beanie teddy, a limited edition bear made to remember Princess Diana, and sell for hundreds of pounds on the internet, as well as a chocolate Easter bunny.
William, on the other side of the crowd, received a friendship bracelet from a local school boy, which he put on to the boy’s delight. Staying for around 15 minutes after their WWI commemoration, William and Catherine then left for a private lunch at the aviation centre, where they will perform another engagement in the afternoon.
Photo Credit: Government House, New Zealand