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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 March, 2005, 10:41 GMT
Ex-archbishop backs royal wedding
Prince Charles at Taiaroa Head
The Prince and the Royal Albatross - back to nature in New Zealand
The former Archbishop of Canterbury has voiced his support for Prince Charles' wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles.

Lord George Carey has urged people to "get behind" the happy couple.

He said the forthcoming marriage was good for the monarchy and set a good example to society at large.

"I think it's good for the country because it's important that at the heart of the monarchy we have stable relationships," Lord Carey explained.

The former head of the Church of England - who retired in 2002 - made his remarks on GMTV's Sunday programme as Prince Charles continued his tour of New Zealand.


The Prince received a traditional Maori nose-pressing welcome - or Hongi - to the Otago Peninsula by the direct descendants of a chief who signed over governorship of New Zealand to the British.
Prince Charles and Tawhiri Karetai greet
Prince Charles performs the Hongi with the descendent of a Maori chief

The great-great-great grandfather of Maori brothers Tawhiri and David Karetai was one of the elders who signed the controversial 1840 Treaty of Waitangi when it came to the headland.

Prince Charles enjoyed his greeting at the Royal Albatross Centre and went on to make an impassioned plea for the preservation of the birds he used to watch flying for days on end whilst he was at sea with the Royal Navy.

Fulfilling a lifelong ambition, Prince Charles crouched within three feet of a mother and chick in a nest at the bird sanctuary at Taiaroa Head.

He suggested that if this majestic member of the albatross family were allowed to become extinct, "we would sacrifice any claim whatsoever to call ourselves civilised beings."

"Will it take the complete dodo-like disappearance of this noble creature to bring us to our sense?" asked the heir to the British throne.

Photo of a Royal Albatross
The Royal Albatross spreads its three-metre wings

The migratory birds have a wingspan of three metres and can swoop at speeds of up to 114kph, but they are threatened by a loss of habitat and long line fishing, which is killing 100,000 a year.

The albatross centre on the windswept south island headland is the only mainland breeding colony in the world and human contact with the birds is limited.

An "ecstatic" prince spent 10 minutes at one of the four nests at Taiaroa Head observing a 20-year-old female Northern Royal Albatross with her month-old chick.

After learning to fly, albatross chicks spend five years soaring over the world, resting only on water and will eventually settle with a partner for life.

Pre-nuptial bliss

Earlier the Prince had been reminded of his long-term love at a Sunday morning service in Dunedin, when younger members of the congregation presented him with framed drawings of himself and Camilla.

The wedding with Camilla Parker Bowles is set to take place at the Guildhall in Windsor - rather than in the grander Windsor Castle - on 8 April.

Several dozen people greeted Prince Charles when he arrived in New Zealand on Saturday for his first visit to the Commonwealth country in 11 years.

From Dunedin Airport, he was taken to a reception at Corstorphine House, a nearby 19th century mansion.

Prime Minister Helen Clark, who wrote congratulating him on his engagement, will meet him during his five-day stay.

Ms Clark has previously said it is inevitable that New Zealand will eventually become a republic, and that the Commonwealth country needs to move into the 21st century.

The Prince is due to fly out of the northern city of Auckland on Thursday, and will visit Fiji on the last leg of his tour.

See highlights of the Prince's New Zealand visit

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