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Royal media pack plays tourist on day off

Tuesday 8 Apr 2014 4:47 p.m.

The royal visit has proved as big as the Rugby World Cup in one respect already – the number of international cameras and reporters covering the event.

But today they were the celebrity tourists, as the royals went off the radar for some private family time.

He calls the royals sir and ma'am; they simply call him Arthur. Royals photographer for The Sun, Arthur Edwards is so legendary the Prince of Wales' artist is even painting him.

The mutual respect is borne out of 37 years covering 200 tours, every wedding and christening, and now this New Zealand tour.

There is no question the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are in every magazine in the US and Europe, and people around the world are reading about New Zealand.

The 120-strong international media pack is unashamed about its interest in Prince George as he makes his debut.

"Nobody in our press pack has seen him for the length of time we've seen him since he came out of hospital," says Royal Photographer of the Year 2013 Mark Stewart. "Here in New Zealand we've seen him really for the first time, and he didn't disappoint."

That is barring one hiccup yesterday at Government House.

"We had a bit of a scare though because we saw this baby up at the window and we thought it was George," says Mr Edwards. "I stopped photographing her and started photographing the baby, but I got back and looked at my computer and it wasn't him. It wasn't George. I was so disappointed. It was a cracking picture!"

It is a picture now confirmed to be of the Governor-General's niece. You win some, you lose some when you are behind the royal lens.

"There's a lot at stake. You don't want to miss the picture of the day," says Getty Images royal photographer Chris Jackson. "There's a lot of pressure, a lot of expectation, but we all know each other very well."

Today on a windy Wellington rest day, some played tourist together, visiting attractions like Peter Jackson's Weta Cave.

The Hobbit premiere alone brought New Zealand $20 million worth of global media coverage. This royal tour is expected to bring that, and more.  

"The weather wasn't great," says Mr Edwards. "It's okay because we aren't looking at that; we are looking at the smiling faces, and the baby."

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