17 Feb 2023

Hundreds greet Princess Anne during visit to Christchurch

6:38 pm on 17 February 2023

Hundreds of people flocked to Christchurch's Cathedral Square today to see Her Royal Highness Princess Anne.

Princess Anne visits Christchurch.

Photo: Niva Chittock

Princess Anne is Colonel in Chief of the Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals, and travelled here to attend its 100th Anniversary celebrations at Linton Military.

The crowd in Canterbury today included the Wizard of Christchurch and young children who waved Union Jack flags from on top of their caregiver's shoulders.

Her Royal Highness met Christchurch mayor Phil Mauger, visited the Cathedral site and rededicated the Citizens' War Memorial.

Princess Anne lays a wreath at the rededicated the Citizens' War Memorial in Christchurch.

Princess Anne lays a wreath at the rededicated the Citizens' War Memorial in Christchurch. Photo: Niva Chittock

She was accompanied by her husband Vice-Admiral Sir Tim Laurence for the final day of their New Zealand visit.

Brenda Lord was one of those who came from far and wide to see Princess Anne.

She drove from Ashburton, more than an hour away.

"I don't work on a Friday and I thought 'what a wonderful opportunity to see her Royal Highness'. And it was a nice chance to come back to Christchurch, I'm originally from here," she said.

Lord thought the monarchy was a constant, especially in difficult times.

"It's a troubled world and I think the Royal Family provide us with stability and I know there's a lot of crap that goes on in any family.

"But I think Princess Anne has never disgraced herself, neither has her mother [Queen Elizabeth II]. I think it's lovely that she's taken the time out to come and visit us."

A crowd gathers in Christchurch to greet Princess Anne.

A crowd gathers in Christchurch to greet Princess Anne. Photo: Niva Chittock

Canadian Alain Breton was meant to fly into Auckland but his flight was diverted to Christchurch.

He was supposed to fly back three days ago, but extended his stay.

"When I found out that Princess Anne was going to be here, I said 'well it's a must'. I need to be here since I'm still a Canadian and part of the Commonwealth. I need to see her," Breton said.

The Citizens War Memorial rededication was particularly special, he added.

"Serving in the military, I served in Iraq. I can relate with the war memorial."

The Last Post rang out as Princess Anne laid a wreath under the statue, followed by a moment of silence.

Douglas Shaw - decked out in a Union Jack hat - first saw Her Royal Highness in New Zealand in 1970 and has followed her visits ever since.

"The monarchy is very important to New Zealand. I think that the system that we've got works well, but we've got to get out and support it, so people realise there are people who support the monarchy," he said.

"What surprised me was how big the crowd has been. She's so far down the line. I didn't think anyone would turn up! It's been really nice seeing everybody here and enjoying it."

The reason behind his attendance at today's ceremony was simple, Shaw explained.

"I wanted to come because of the way [Princess Anne] looked after her mother [Queen Elizabeth II] when she died. She does a great job and she's one of the hardest working members of the Royal Family."

Princess Anne has visited New Zealand eight times, with the latest being in 2008. This is the first royal visit since the then-Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall in 2019.