Princess Anne and Sir Tim Laurence clock up engagements in New Zealand

The couple were on a lowkey visit

This week, The Princess Royal and Sir Tim Laurence visited New Zealand.

The couple’s engagements had to be changed, following the aftermath of the cyclone that has devastated the country. The visit was requested by the Army’s Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals, of which Princess Anne is Colonel in Chief, to mark its 100th anniversary celebrations at Linton Camp.

However, the event was called off due to the weather with military personnel helping in the recovery effort surrounding the cyclone.

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After being greeted by the Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro on Tuesday evening at Government House in Wellington, the couple’s first stop on Wednesday was to the National Crisis Management Centre (the Beehive Bunker) where they met with crisis response staff dealing with the impacts of the cyclone.

They were shown around the centre by the country’s new Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins. Jacinda Ardern recently resigned her role as Prime Minister after six years in the job.

Following the visit the disaster centre, the Princess, 72, released a statement that her ‘thoughts are with all New Zealanders whose homes or livelihoods have been affected by Cyclone Gabrielle’.

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‘I have been given the opportunity to visit the national disaster and crisis headquarters today and I am impressed by the major efforts being undertaken by first responders, local and national agencies to ensure the best possible support for everyone, especially those still at risk.

‘I admire the courage of the people of Aotearoa [New Zealand] during this alarming and difficult time. You should all be proud of the resilience, strength and care for your communities you are showing in the face of adversity. Kia kaha.’

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As Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals, The King’s sister then attended a reception to mark the centenary of the Corps.

Princess Anne and Sir Tim additionally attended a Service of Remembrance in the Hall of Memories at Pukeahu National War Memorial, which honours 30,000 New Zealanders who have died in past conflicts. The Princess laid a wreath, and then both she and her husband signed the book of remembrance.

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On Thursday, The Princess Royal and Sir Tim Laurence visited one of HRH’s Patronages, Riding for the Disabled Association, in Porirua. The couple were shown the facilities by chief executive Donna Kennedy and chairperson Peter Johnston.

They met with riders, their families, volunteers, staff, and also handed out commemorative rosettes. To commemorate the visit to the organisation, Her Royal Highness unveiled a plaque.

The Princess joined Riding for the Disabled as its Patron in 1971, later becoming President in 1985.

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Wilson, one of the wheelchair users that gave a demonstration to the couple, had been with the organisation after a horse riding accident left her in a wheelchair seven years ago. She said Anne asked her how long had she been riding her ‘special’ horse which responded to voice commands, and spoke about the physical and mental benefits she got from riding horses.

Wilson said the royal visitor ‘was very in tune with where we come from and what riding does for us. She’s an amazing person, so personable’.

Jane Curry, another wheelchair user also said The Princess Royal asked about her injuries and her horse riding abilities. ‘She has more knowledge than your average person about how the skeleton works and she assumed that I had received a lot of rosettes in my riding career, which was actually incorrect because I haven’t done a lot of riding’.

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The Princess has a long-standing relationship with supporting equine and riding charities, as she is a horse lover herself. She was the first member of the Royal Family to have competed in the Olympic Games, when she rode The Queen’s horse, Goodwill, in the equestrian three-day event at the 1976 Montreal games.

Following on from this, Anne opened the Mission to Seafarers new Wellington Mission, and unveiled the foundation stone for the Mission to Seafarers and Merchant Navy Memorial at Wellington Cathedral. The Royal is President of the charity, which provides support for the practical and spiritual welfare of seafarers of all nationalities and faiths.

In the evening, the couple attended a reception, which marked the centenary of the Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals. In a speech, Anne highlighted the service and sacrifices made by defence personnel. HRH has been Colonel in Chief of the Royal Corps of Signals since 1977.

HRH attended a reception to mark centenary of the Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals. (Governor General of New Zealand)

Anne spoke to soldiers. (Governor General of New Zealand)

On the final day in New Zealand, The Princess Royal and Tim Laurence visited the Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand.

President Rachel Walker, Vice President Nic Barkley and Operations Manager Christine Roberts spoke with them about the organisation’s work in New Zealand, how the showing movement has changed due to COVID pandemic and how recent events will have a short-term impact in the months ahead.

Anne and Tim visited Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand. (RSA)

Sheep Breeds Chair, Ian Stevenson and New Zealand Merino Co’s Nicola Peddie then spoke to them about about wool, micron testing in New Zealand, and the types of wool products which are produced from wool of different micron levels.

To finish off the visit, they were presented with a framed Royal Agricultural Society’s Gold Medal for their ongoing commitment to the agricultural sector.

Princess Anne and Sir Tim then headed to Christchurch Cathedral, where they attended the Memorial Rededication Ceremony. The Princess laid a wreath on the memorial.

To conclude the four-day visit, Her Royal Highness visited Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. The Princess Royal is Patron of the New Zealand Conservation Trust.

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The trip abroad marks The Princess Royal’s fourth visit abroad in 2023. Last month, she visited Estonia and she also flew to Cyprus in her role as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Logistic Corps. Anne and Tim then represented the Royal Family at the funeral of the former King of Greece, Constantine II, in Athens.

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