William and Kate arrive in New Zealand with Prince George

Prince George was carried off the plane by his mother

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have carried Prince George off the plane at the start of a three-week visit to New Zealand and Australia.

It is the first official tour for the eight-month-old prince, who was awake in his mother's arms as the trio were greeted at Wellington airport by Prime Minister John Key and waiting media.

It was only the second time the baby has faced the press.

The party were met with cold, wet and windy weather.

After greeting them on the tarmac, Mr Key tweeted: "The Royals have landed in Wellington. Let's make them very welcome, New Zealand."

Fashion choices

The couple were then taken to Government House, the official residence of the governor general, where they received a traditional Maori welcome.

They were greeted with a nose-press, called a hongi, and met Maori warriors.

A minor controversy marked the start of the trip - which ends in Canberra on 25 April.

Plunket, New Zealand's national childcare agency, published photos of a baby seat facing forwards in the royal car, with critics claiming this contradicted Plunket's advice that children of the prince's age should face the rear window.

Royals in New Zealand Prince George will only accompany his parents on a few engagements
Duchess of Cambridge The couple were greeted with a nose-press, called a hongi
Prince William New Zealand Prince William inspected the New Zealand Air Force Band
Duchess of Cambridge Maori warriors greeted the royals at Government House

The duchess's fashion choices are expected to be closely scrutinised during the tour and she arrived in New Zealand wearing a red coat with gold buttons - from British designer Catherine Walker, who was a firm favourite of Diana, Princess of Wales.

She teamed her outfit with a red pillbox hat designed by Gina Foster and a silver fern-shaped brooch, a symbol of New Zealand.

She has been loaned the diamond and platinum piece by the Queen, who had herself received it as a gift during a visit to Auckland 60 years ago.

Prince George wore a cream cardigan and matching shoes.

Analysis

The reception that William, his wife and son receive over the next three weeks will say something about the vitality of the British crown and its relevance in 2014.

Clearly not everyone who turns out to cheer William, Catherine and George will necessarily subscribe to the view that, 50 years or so from now, when George might be expected to succeed to the throne of the United Kingdom, that he should also become king of Australia and king of New Zealand.

But as ambassadors for the system of hereditary, constitutional monarchy, this trio exert a powerful force.

He will be taken to a few specific engagements throughout the trip, and the programme stops on most days in the late afternoon to allow his parents to get back to him.

The royals flew on a scheduled Qantas flight from Heathrow Airport, via Dubai, to Sydney where they transferred to a military plane.

Their engagements in New Zealand will see them take in a yacht race and visit a Maori tribe, a rugby stadium and a vineyard.

In Australia, their destinations include Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Queensland, Adelaide and Canberra.

Helping oversee the care of Prince George will be his newly-appointed nanny Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo, who stayed in the background as the royals received their official welcome to New Zealand.

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