The Prince of Wales, 1920
When addressing the Imperial War Conference in 1917, and again at the conference of overseas Prime Ministers the following year, George V had foreshadowed the visit to the Dominions of his eldest son (Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, Prince of Wales) “when peace comes”. The matter was discussed more than once in the ensuing months until finally, on 3 January 1920, the Secretary of State for the Colonies cabled the Governor-General confirming an early visit.
After a week's delay, because of an epidemic on the ship, the 25-year-old Prince left Portsmouth on 16 March 1920 on HMS Renown, Britain's newest and biggest battleship, and arrived at Auckland on 24 April. Remaining at Auckland until 27 April he then travelled by train – the same train built in New Zealand for his parents' visit 20 years before – to Rotorua. It was here that the itinerary was disrupted by a rail strike. After a Maori reception the Royal party was able to return to Auckland where, Government House being unprepared, Prince Edward stayed on Renown until 2 May, by which time some agreement in the dispute had been reached and the programme could be resumed. To make up for time thus lost, the Prince gave up a proposed shooting expedition in the Wairarapa.
The Royal train travelled south to reach Wellington on 5 May, and five days later Renown sailed for Picton and the South Island section of the tour. Following visits to Nelson and the West Coast, the Prince reached Christchurch where he became the first to be presented with the freedom of the city. The next stage was to Dunedin and it was here that a hare enlivened proceedings by dashing through the ranks on parade at Forbury Park. On 20 May the Royal visitor left for Invercargill, returning to Christchurch the following day. Early on 22 May he sailed on Renown for Australia.
A member of the Prince's entourage on this tour was his friend and cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, flag lieutenant to Admiral Halsey, the Prince's chief of staff. Later to become Earl Mountbatten of Burma and to visit the Dominion more than once as a distinguished visitor, Lord Louis has further links with New Zealand Royal visits – his younger daughter, Lady Pamela, accompanied the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, his nephew, on their tour in 1953–54.