FEILDING: Prince Charles on Thursday comforted the parents of a New Zealand soldier killed in Afghanistan as he toured the rural North Island town of Feilding.
The heir to the British throne, whose own son Prince Harry is serving as an army helicopter pilot in Afghanistan, held a private meeting with war veterans and then talked to Mark and Mary-Anne O’Donnell at the town’s war memorial.
The couple’s son Tim, 28, was killed during a Taliban attack on his patrol in Bamiyan province in 2010. His father Mark said Charles understood the fears of parents with family serving in the war-torn country.
“He knows for the sons there’s a risk, when Tim was there we thought he was in a safe area and he was killed, he probably hopes that Harry’s in a safe area,” O’Donnell told reporters.
“Basically he made the comments of another parent, which you can really relate to, so it was very special.”
Charles, who is in New Zealand with his wife Camilla on the last leg of a Pacific tour to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond anniversary, also shared his enthusiasm for organic produce with stallholders at the local farmers’ market.
Watched by a crowd of about 2,500, the largest turnout in New Zealand so far, he exchanged tips about sustainable farming and sampled local produce.
On Wednesday, Tolkien fan Prince Charles marked his 64th birthday with a tour of Middle Earth at the New Zealand studio behind Peter Jackson’s latest Hobbit movie.
Jackson gave the British heir to the throne a personal tour of his Weta Workshop special effects studio in Wellington, which will host the world premiere of his new film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey later this month.
Charles is reportedly a major Tolkien fan and British media cited Palace sources as saying that he was “very much” looking forward to seeing the prosthetic hairy feet used by star hobbit Bilbo Baggins.
The tour, which has also included Papua New Guinea and Australia, wraps up on Friday with a visit to Christchurch, scene of a devastating earthquake last year which claimed 185 lives.