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Prince Charles celebrates birthday in NZ

Hundreds of cheering people lined the sun-drenched Wellington Harbour waterfront on Wednesday and sang Happy Birthday to Prince Charles as he did a walkabout with his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.

Security appeared relaxed as Charles told all, “It's a jolly good day for Scorpios,” shook hands repeatedly with adoring onlookers, including young girls calling out “We love you,” and his wife stopped to talk to anyone holding a dog.

Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall celebrate the prince's 64th birthday with New Zealand's Governor General Jerry Mateparae and Mateparae's wife Janineat the Government House in Wellington November 14, 2012. Photo: REUTERS/Maarten Holl/Pool. Credit: REUTERS

A clearly delighted Charles told guests at a reception at Government House earlier, “I couldn't think of a better, happier, place to spend my birthday than here in New Zealand.

“We have been so touched by the welcome we have been given.”

It was the fourth day of the couple's six-day New Zealand tour marking his mother Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee celebrations of 60 years on the British throne.

They formally opened a new visitor centre at Government House, which has been declared New Zealand's Diamond Jubilee gift to the Queen, after getting a traditional Maori warrior's welcome.

A 21-gun salute was fired as a Royal New Zealand Air Force plane flew over in tribute.

The royal couple and guests ignored a group of anti-monarchy protestors squatting on toilets, mocking the throne he will ascend when his mother dies, outside the gates of Government House.

The prince met movie director Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor, his colleague on The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit - which premieres in two weeks - at the Weta Workshop in suburban Miramar, otherwise known as Wellywood.

Charles observed technicians working on the prosthetic props designed for the fantasy films and chatted with staff.

The prince wound up the day with a birthday party attended by 64 other people born on the same day.

Their names were drawn in a ballot from more than 1,500 people born on November 14 who applied to join the royal couple. They included 101-year-old Mary Crosby, who as a youngster travelling in Britain was invited to the coronation of the prince's grandfather, King George VI.

The affair was hosted by the governor-general, Sir Jerry Mateparae, who is also celebrating his birthday. - Sapa-dpa

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