Baby Prince George heads Down Under for first tour

Baby Prince George heads Down Under for first tour

LONDON - Baby Prince George was heading from Britain to New Zealand and Australia on Sunday, with parents Prince William and his wife Catherine taking the eight-month-old on his first ever tour.

George, third in line to the throne of all three countries, follows in the footsteps of his father who travelled Down Under with his parents Prince Charles and Diana in 1983 aged nine months.

The three-week royal tour by William, 31, Kate, 32, and George will be one of the first times the young prince has been seen in public since his birth on July 22 last year.

On March 30 palace officials issued a photo of the chubby prince, wearing a sweater with his name on, alongside his parents and their dog Lupo posing in the window of their Kensington Palace residence in London.

The symbolism of the trip is clear, with George also being directly in line to become king of Australia and New Zealand after grandfather Charles and then William.

George will only be taken to a few specific engagements throughout the trip, their Kensington Palace residence said.

In New Zealand, the royal couple will start their visit in Wellington on Monday with a ceremonial welcome including a Maori dance, and inspect a guard of honour.

George could have some playmates on Wednesday when William and Kate attend a reception at Government House in Wellington with new mothers and their toddlers.

On Thursday they travel to Blenheim for a wreath laying session honouring New Zealand soldiers killed in World War I, which broke out 100 years ago.

They will also meet Prime Minister John Key and attend a state reception where William will unveil a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.

The couple are in Auckland on Friday, Hamilton and Cambridge on Saturday, Dunedin and Queenstown on Sunday, where they will brave the Shotover Jet - a high-speed white-water thrill ride down a river canyon, and Christchurch on April 14, where they will pay their respects to victims of the 2011 earthquake.

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