British Prince George's first tour stifles Australia/NZ republicans

Thu Apr 3, 2014 7:37am EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith and Thuy Ong

LONDON/SYDNEY (Reuters) - He may still be in nappies but Prince George embarks on his first official tour this weekend as Britain's younger royals ride a wave of popularity that is expected to dampen republican movements in Australia and New Zealand.

The eight-month-old prince, third-in-line to the British throne, will accompany his parents the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on a three-week tour of the two former British colonies.

His first official event is expected to be at a parent and baby group on April 9 at Government House in Wellington, the New Zealand capital, the residence where his father, Prince William, crawled for the first time during a royal tour in 1983.

William and his wife Kate will also mark a century since the outbreak of World War One by paying tribute to both countries' war dead before leaving on April 25.

Queen Elizabeth, who turns 88 this month, is scaling back her workload and the younger royals - William and his party-loving brother Harry - are taking on more duties as is their father and heir apparent Prince Charles.

Monarchists in Australia said the visit takes place at an interesting time, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott bringing back an oath of allegiance to the Queen when he was sworn in last year and reintroducing the honors of knight and dame.

"There's been a resurgence in young people and popularity with the monarchy in Australia and a lot of that is because there was a generation gap between them and Prince Charles," said Daniel Czech, 28, of the Australian Monarchist League.

"Now William and Harry and Kate are taking on the duties of their father and grandmother, people really respect them."   Continued...

Britain's Prince William carries his son Prince George as they arrive for his son's christening at St James's Palace in London October 23, 2013. REUTERS/John Stillwell/pool