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Last Updated: Monday, 20 June, 2005, 06:40 GMT 07:40 UK
William 'excited' at Lions trip
Prince William
The prince is also looking forward to New Zealand's breathtaking scenery
Prince William has said he is "really excited" ahead of his trip to New Zealand where he will join the touring British and Irish Lions rugby team.

The prince will also come face to face with their rivals, the New Zealand All Blacks, it has been announced.

William, who is 23 on Tuesday, will fly to New Zealand next week for 10 days.

"As a huge rugby fan, I cannot think of a better place to watch what will hopefully be a hard-fought and exciting Test series," he said.

"But I am also very much looking forward to meeting people outside of rugby and enjoying some of the breathtaking scenery for which New Zealand is so justly renowned."

Solo engagements

The prince, who will arrive in Wellington on 30 June, will take part in training sessions with the Lions and watch the second and third tests against the All Blacks. He will then fly to Auckland to meet the New Zealand team.

He will also carry out his first solo engagements, representing the Queen, by attending ceremonies in Wellington and Auckland to mark the end of World War II.

Praising New Zealand's "courageous" World War II soldiers, he said: "It will be a privilege and honour to meet some World War II veterans, whose bravery our generation must never forget."

Prince William will also visit a primary school in Arrowtown near Queenstown and open a water polo competition near Auckland.

Two days of the trip will be spent privately, said Clarence House.

He will stay on a farm and visit a "marae" - a sacred Maori tribal home.

Visitors who enter a marae are greeted with a welcoming ritual, a pressing of noses and symbolic exchange of breath known as the hongi.

William, who recently gained a 2:1 in his geography degree at St Andrews University, was invited to support the British and Irish Lions by coach Sir Clive Woodward, Clarence House said.




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