9 Apr 2014

Royal play date at Government House

10:08 pm on 9 April 2014

The heir to the British throne was just a regular boy as he played with 10 other babies at Government House in Wellington.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George are on a nine-day tour of New Zealand and Wednesday's play group was the eight-month-old's first official public engagement.

Prince George plays with toys during a Plunket nurse and parents group visit at Government House.

Prince George plays with toys during a Plunket nurse and parents group visit at Government House. Photo: POOL

The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George.

The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George. Photo: POOL

Toys were piled in the middle of the Blundell room as the Plunket tots, also eight months, played under grand chandeliers and formal portraits lining the walls.

Prince George was carried by his mother, Catherine, as she mingled with other first-time parents in the room. Just metres away, Prince William chatted easily with others.

George was keen to interact with the other babies, reaching for Lily Gray while she was being held in her mother Alana's arms.

His royal prerogative shone through, however, when he took a shine to a wooden doll in possession of young Eden Alve. He reached for the doll and snatched it from the girl before throwing it to the floor. The Duchess quickly retrieved it.

Happy chatter and gurgles filled the room as babies crawled between the legs of their parents, the Royal couple and Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae.

Occasional wails broke out, but on the whole the babies behaved admirably on an occasion which will be retold to them their whole lives.

Grant and Magda Collinge, whose baby Lucas played with George, said the Royal couple were enjoying New Zealand "except for the weather".

George was a big baby and not afraid to get stuck in and take charge. At the beginning of the play date, he crawled straight to the middle of the toy pile and took a particular shine to a drum toy, Mr Collinge said.

Porirua early childhood teacher Shiela Tagulima said Prince George was bold and advanced for his age - hauling himself up to standing against objects while her own son, TagiiLima, was not yet ready to stand.

At 4pm the Royal family left the engagement, leaving the parents to exchange impressions on the most remarkable play date it is likely their children will ever enjoy.