Prince William to visit Pike River; Queensland

The people of Greymouth are “tickled pink”, according to Mayor Tony Kokshoorn, about the impending visit of Prince William.

The future British King will survey the scene at Pike River and be briefed on the developments at the mine where 29 men were killed in November.

Kokshoorn said he will pick Prince William up from the airport next Thursday and take him to the Shantytown mining village.

He went on to say the prince will make a speech and be introduced to the families of the mine disaster, as well as New Zealand dignitaries.

He will also address the National Memorial Service for Christchurch earthquake victims on behalf of the Queen on March 18.

"People on the West Coast are tickled pink actually. We’re really pleased that he is caring enough to come all the way down under, to Australia and New Zealand to visit the victims of the earthquake and the Pike River Mine 29," Kokshoorn said.

Prime Minister John Key said Prince William’s visit only six weeks before he marries Kate Middleton is a touching gesture.

"I think it will mean an awful lot that he’s making the long trek from the UK to be part of the commemoration services, that he has a real love of New Zealand, as does his grandmother and I think it’s a very nice gesture that he’s coming out," Key said.

Meanwhile, Pike River Coal receivers, PricewaterhouseCoopers, say they are looking for buyers for the mine, after taking control back from police this week.

Companies have already expressed interest in taking over the mine, according to one of the receivers, John Fisk.

The concern for the families is continuity in the recovery effort, and spokesman for the families of victims, Bernie Monk said they would like a guarantee that efforts will continue to recover the bodies, despite which company takes control.

During his visit, Prince William will also travel to Queensland and talk with victims of the devastating floods and cyclones.

He has expressed a wish for his visit to be as informal as possible, and allow him the opportunity to have private conversations with victims of recent tragedies.

Some mining companies with operations in Queensland are still dealing with the affects the weather conditions have had on operations.

Premier Anna Bligh told the ABC she could not be specific about the Prince’s itinerary, but she would like him to see as much as possible during his visit.

"But yes, I would expect him to be in both north Queensland at some stage, and the southeast," she said.

"It’s not that he’ll be having big formal functions that take massive organising.

"He wants to be as informal as is reasonable – I don’t think that’s very easy when you’re the prince – but he does want an opportunity to be pretty informal and get close to people."

Image: The Telegraph UK


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