WELLINGTON - Britain's baby Prince George will host his first ever official function on Wednesday, when he has a play date with a group of New Zealand toddlers in Wellington.
The eight-month old, who landed in New Zealand on Monday with parents Prince William and Kate, will meet 10 local babies at an event in Government House organised by non-profit childcare group Plunket.
It will be the first time that a regal function has been organised around the young prince since his birth on July 22 last year.
Since then, he has rarely been seen in public, with his arrival in Wellington one of the few chances royal watchers have had to see the chubby infant.
Plunket president Tristine Clark said the babies at the event were all roughly the same age as George and were the offspring of first-time parents, just like William and Kate.
She said the parents were also selected to reflect the diversity of New Zealand society, including various ethnic groups and a same-sex couple.
"The parents are a spread of all the communities in New Zealand, including Maoris, Samoans, people of Chinese descent and gay couples," she said.
"This is a very multi-cultural country and we wanted the Duke and Duchess (of Cambridge) to meet people from all backgrounds." Plunket's Wellington manager Tina Syme said the event should be fun for the royals, who said they wanted to meet as many locals as possible before embarking on their three-week tour of New Zealand and Australia.
"We wanted something quite special for the duke and duchess, not just a meet-and-greet and shake hands but something that was actually really enjoyable for them as well," she said.
While the event is meant to be relaxed, Syme said the parents had been advised to address the royals as "Your Royal Highness" on the first instance, followed by their name after that.
She said the parents had also been told not to hesitate to intervene if a royal row erupted between the prince and some of his pint-sized subjects.
"They said what you do at a normal play group, you can do here. If you're the nearest parent and you need to intervene for a child's safety then you would." The New Zealand Republic lobby group said any of the 10 Kiwi babies at Government House would be better qualified as the country's head of state than George, who is third in line to the throne in both Britain and New Zealand.
"Baby George is as cute as any other baby... but unfortunately he cannot be New Zealand's future head of state, not unless he one day migrates to New Zealand and becomes a citizen," it said.