Dutch Prince leaves sour impression with New Zealanders

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The heir to the Dutch throne, Prince Willem-Alexander of Orange, left New Zealand onlookers bemused with an apparent snub as he and his wife Princess Máxima started an official visit to New Zealand on Tuesday.

Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima are visiting New Zealand after an official visit to Australia. An official state welcome was held in the grounds of Government House in Wellington yesterday.

As they left a hotel, in Queenstown, New Zealand's tourism capital, ending a three-day private holiday before embarking on their official tour of New Zealand, a radio reporter asked the prince about his impressions of New Zealand.

"Mind your own business, it's private," was the curt reply, which drew gasps from onlookers, as the Prince of Orange got into a cream-coloured Mercedes. Just seconds earlier, Princess Máxima who is pregnant with the couple's third child, waved and smiled, saying she had "just loved" Queenstown.

Hotel general manager Victoria Shaw said the couple "loved the hotel and their time in Queenstown, but it was their private time and they requested they have their privacy while they were here."

One upset onlooker yelled "And don't come back" after the departing motorcade.

They left Queenstown in a bright orange private jet and will host their first reception in Wellington on Wednesday.

The couple are due to fly out for Singapore Saturday afternoon.