Prince William to Visit New Zealand and Australia

When Britain's Prince William visits New Zealand next January on a brief tour, it will be the first time that the future King officially represents the Queen overseas.

It’s also another major milestone, linked with New Zealand, for the 27-year-old prince who first crawled and took the weight on his feet as a nine-month-old baby, during his parents' 1985 visit.

The prince, who is second in line to the throne, will take his grandmother’s place at the opening of the new Supreme Court building in Wellington on January 18.

Prince William will be in New Zealand from January 17-19, 2010, visiting Auckland and Wellington. As well as opening the new Supreme Court building, he will conduct a series of other engagements, details of which will be released closer to his arrival.

He will then move on to Australia for a two-day unofficial tour to Sydney and Melbourne where he will learn more about local indigenous issues and visit the bushfire-ravaged countryside in Victoria.

The prince says he hopes the trip will also help to cement the Royal Family’s close ties with the two Commonwealth countries. It is understood that the Queen personally instigated William’s visit as she is keen for her grandson to "deepen his links" with the Commonwealth.

Prince William last visited New Zealand in 2005 when he followed the British Lions’ rugby tour. Although it was an unofficial tour, he laid a wreath at the National War Memorial in Wellington and another in Auckland to commemorate the end of WWII.

During his 11-day visit, the prince watched the All Blacks beat the British and Irish Lions and attended an All Blacks’ training session. He charmed crowds of well-wishers earning himself the title "Prince Charming" from the New Zealand media.