The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, 1901
The next Royal occasion was not until 1901 when Prince George Frederick Ernest Albert (1865–1936), Duke of Cornwall and York and second son of Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, arrived with his Duchess. The visit, part of an Empire tour, followed the opening of the Commonwealth Parliament in Australia and was also a tribute to the response made throughout the Empire during the Boer War. The Duke's commission had just been signed when Queen Victoria died; nevertheless it was decided that the tour should still take place.
The Royal couple left England on 16 March 1901 in the Ophir, an Orient liner of 6,910 tons specially converted for the purpose. It had a naval escort. They arrived at Auckland on 11 June, 24 hours ahead of schedule, the landing being delayed until the set time the following day.
The Duke and Duchess remained at Auckland until 13 June, and during this time laid the foundation stone of Queen Victoria High School for Girls. They also received from Sir John Logan Campbell the deeds of Cornwall Park, a gift to the people of New Zealand. Two days were spent at Rotorua, but a notable absentee from Maori receptions was the “Maori King” (q.v.). From Rotorua the party returned to Auckland to rejoin Ophir bound for Wellington. In Wellington foundation stones of the Town Hall and new Government railway offices were laid before the ship sailed on 21 June for Lyttelton. The Duke and Duchess stayed at Christchurch until 25 June when they travelled by rail to Dunedin. They returned to Lyttelton by the same route to sail for Tasmania on 27 June. Dunedin excelled itself with an elaborate series of decorations – with evergreen garlands, coloured drapings, and a line of Venetian masts. There were a number of special arches, including a Government and a City and Suburban arch, and the novel Chinese arch. At night the Octagon was a “scene of great beauty” with illuminated decorations, and fireworks were also a feature of the evening celebrations.
On their return to Britain the couple were proclaimed Prince and Princess of Wales and, on the death of Edward VII in 1910, became George V and Queen Mary.