For over 150 years, the monarchy has been of great significance and interest to New Zealanders. Each generation has found fascinating stories, captivating characters, and meaningful relationships in this timeless, yet ever-changing institution.

Like any other whānau, the royal family is made up of people with a variety of characteristics, personalities, and strengths. Some royals are reserved and work quietly in the background, while others are outgoing and eagerly engage with the public. Some are serious, while others are cheeky. 

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, is surely among the most endearing members of the royal family.  Known to much of the world as a colourful, down-to-earth man, he’s admired for his military service and his compassion for the less fortunate. It’s not surprising that New Zealanders were pleased by the announcement on 27 November 2017, that he was engaged to marry Meghan Markle. A charismatic and confident individual in her own right, she brings a new and exciting dimension to the royal family.

Like people all over the world, Kiwis tuned in to watch their royal wedding on 19 May 2018. They have since watched Meghan’s first steps into the world as a royal, and admired the energy she has brought to the role. Not surprisingly, the September announcement that Harry and Meghan would be touring several Pacific nations was greeted with much excitement, as well as the news that they are expecting their first child.

The Pacific tour commenced on 15 October with a focus on youth, mental health, environmental issues, and the Invictus Games. The public and media were predictably enthusiastic, but the interest intensified even further with the announcement that Meghan was pregnant. Huge crowds have greeted the royals throughout their four-nation tour.

After nine days in Australia, three days in Fiji, and two days in Tonga, the couple embarked on the final leg of their trip. Arriving in Wellington on 28 October, they were greeted by the Prime Minister and officially welcomed by the Governor-General.

Both Harry and Meghan had visited New Zealand before, separately, but their experiences on this visit will be quite different. Harry’s no longer the eligible bachelor and adventurous young man that he was in 2015, but a caring husband and expectant father. Meghan, who last visited in 2014, is no longer a private citizen, free to travel throughout the country as she wishes, but a working member of New Zealand’s royal family. Like all royal tours, everything is carefully planned in advance to ensure the best use of time, and to maximise the number of people able to meet them.

For some, it was their first opportunity to meet the couple and for others it was a chance to see them again, and to appreciate how much they’ve changed. This Aotearoa tour will certainly not be the Sussexes’ last. Indeed, their departure only raised the question, what will their family look like when they next return?

Date of Issue: 30 October 2018

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