Royal tour: William, Kate and Prince George arrive in New Zealand to traditional welcome

The royal visit was preceded by a car-seat controversy, but has otherwise begun without incident

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The Independent Online

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have arrived with Prince George in New Zealand for the start of the child’s first royal visit abroad.

Dressed - somewhat predictably - in red, white and blue, Kate, George and William were greeted on the tarmac in Wellington by New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key, as well as a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony.

It was a long journey to take with an eight-month-old baby on board, but the visit has apparently been chosen to echo the 1983 tour of Australia and New Zealand made by Prince Charles and Diana, when William accompanied them aged just nine months.

Yet it was also marked by a new poll in New Zealand, commissioned by a republican lobby group, which suggested that 66 per cent of those aged 18-30 would prefer to see someone from their own country made head of state.

Among New Zealand’s mainstream press the visit has been hugely popular, with an editorial in the Herald describing it as an important “chance to impress” for the young royals.

William led the welcoming party in a royal salute before taking an active role in the Maori ceremony.

Apart from the grey and blustery weather, the arrival went off without a hitch – in marked contrast to the controversy inadvertently caused before the royals had even arrived.

There was outrage among New Zealand parents at the weekend after the national childcare advisory agency, Plunket, released images showing the official royal car being fitted with a baby seat for George – against their own safety advice for babies his age.

The agency was accused of fawning hypocrisy after apparently complying with the Duke and Duchess’s request for a forward-facing baby seat, when Plunket’s own advice calls for rear-facing seats for all babies under the age of two.

The incident could cause significant embarrassment for the royals – particularly as Plunket was due to host one of the very few public appearances George will make while he’s there.

On Wednesday, the three are scheduled to appear at an event attended by nurses, parents and young children from Plunket’s parents' group.