Prince George is about to go on tour.
The 7-month-old prince is set to fly halfway around the world and join his parents, Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, in New Zealand and Australia for his first royal engagements, enabling fans to see him up close for the first time since his christening in October.
While it was believed George would join his parents for the three-week trip, his accompanying them was only confirmed this weekend, once they were sure they were comfortable with the arrangements.
“It is entirely their own decision,” said William’s private secretary, Miguel Head. “The times he may join them [on engagements] is driven by the same desire – that nothing other than their own considerations and comfort will be taken into account.”
The tour begins in Wellington, New Zealand, on April 7 and ends in Canberra, Australia, on the 25th.
Before travel arrangements could be finalized, the couple had to seek permission from the Queen for William and his son to travel together – normally, heirs don’t travel long distances together on the same aircraft. William set the precedent himself in 1983, when he was 9 months old and joined his parents, Charles and Diana, on a trip Down Under.
Great thought has gone into planning the trip around the needs of baby George, who will have an as-yet-unnamed nanny traveling with him.
Also in the entourage: William and Kate’s private secretaries, three press spokespeople, a tour secretary, a personal assistant (though this, it is stressed, is not a dresser), a hairdresser, and an orderly to manage logistics. Sir David Manning, a former diplomat and an adviser to the couple, will also accompany them.
The Baby Stays Put
The palace has a “hub and spoke” plan, with the royals basing themselves in three places – Wellington, New Zealand, and Sydney and Canberra in Australia. William, 31, and Kate, 32, will head out on their engagements and return to their son at night.
“That’s so that Prince George doesn’t have to move around, and the couple can still cover as much of the country and see as any people as they can,” an aide says.
It will be Kate’s first time in those countries, something she is excited about, aides say. William “is in no doubt that his wife will fall in love with New Zealand and Australia every bit as much as he did some years ago,” Head says.
The flight from London to Wellington takes about 23 hours, and while locals will get their first glimpse of George when he and his parents walk off the plane on arrival, the royals are giving themselves a day to get over the 11,000-mile flight and will stay at a private residence outside of the New Zealand capital.
Two days later, after they’ve spent family time together, William and Kate will attend a garden party hosted by the governor-general of New Zealand to celebrate the Plunket group, a national organization that provides healthcare to parents and their babies.
Calling it “a nice relaxed informal occasion,” Head adds that there is a possibility that Prince George will attend the event.
Aides say “it’s hoped” George will also appear at an engagement in Australia with his parents. An ideal time would be when Kate and William visit Taronga Zoo in Sydney on April 21, Easter Sunday, where an enclosure for bilbies (an endangered marsupial) will be named after Prince George.
Also on William and Kate’s full schedule are attending swanky evening events, sailing on Auckland harbor and visiting spectacular Uluru, in the heart of Australia.