Prince of Wales arrives for New Zealand tour

24 April 1920

Edward Prince of Wales meeting returned soldiers, 1920 (Alexander Turnbull Library, PAColl-0362-16)

King George V’s son, Edward, Prince of Wales (who later reigned briefly as Edward VIII), visited New Zealand partly to thank the Dominion for its contribution to the Empire’s war effort. Arriving in Auckland aboard the battlecruiser HMS Renown on 24 April, he spent four weeks travelling the country aboard a lavishly appointed Royal Train and by motor coach, visiting 50 towns between Auckland and Invercargill.

The dashing young ‘playboy’ prince was mobbed by adoring crowds everywhere he went, and was said to have shaken more than 20,000 hands during his visit. But he was less impressed, complaining in a letter to his mistress: ‘We managed to keep fairly cheery despite never 1 hr free from returned soldiers & schoolchildren! Christ their cheers & “God saves” and “God blesses” get on my nerves.’

The Prince saved his worst insults for the ‘pricelessly pompous’ and ‘grossly fat’ governor-general, Lord Liverpool: ‘It makes me so angry to have my job bitched by other people, darling, especially by hopeless ____s like “Liver”!!’

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