Although Queen Elizabeth II won’t be opening the 2000 Olympics in Australia, the Royal Family will continue to maintain a “hugely important” role in neighboring New Zealand, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said. Shipley greeted Princess Anne on Parliament’s front steps Wednesday. The Queen’s daughter is halfway through a four-day visit to New Zealand. “For many New Zealanders the Royal Family has a hugely important role in the past, and I believe will continue to have in the future,” the Prime Minister said. Australian Prime Minister John Howard has announced that he, not the Queen (who is officially Australia’s head of state), will open the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

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