Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meets the Queen, chosen for state banquet duty

 stuff.co.nz  4/19/2018 6:03:55 PM 

STACEY KIRK IN LONDON

Last updated 07:45, April 20 2018

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to waiting media after her private audience with the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has met the Queen as one of the four of the 19 new Commonwealth leaders granted a private audience. 

Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford were hosted at Buckingham Palace on Thursday (Friday NZ Time). The pair chatted over tea and the Queen asked the prime minister how her day was going. 

But once the doors had closed the discussion would have been more in-depth. 

Ardern would not comment in detail about what she discussed with the Queen - to do so would be "a break in protocol" - but said she felt "exceptionally lucky" to have had her time with the monarch. 

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"I had a discussion with the Queen that mostly focused on New Zealand, she has a huge interest in how we're recovering from the many and varied things we've been up against in recent times and clearly, maintains great interest."

Ardern gave the Queen a gift - one that a member of the public had sent into her office just a couple of weeks ago, as well some New Zealand food items. 

"It was a photo that was taken by a women who is now in her late 70s, but at the age of 14 took a photo of the Queen as she travelled through New Zealand in the early 1950s. She was a student of Queen Margaret's College and she had a little camera and took a beautiful shot." 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern chats with the Queen during a private audience at Buckingham Palace.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern chats with the Queen during a private audience at Buckingham Palace.

The Queen gave New Zealand two individual photographs of herself and the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip, which would go pride of place in the Beehive office. 

Ardern would not say whether her pregnancy was discussed, but said was on her mind before she went into her discussion. 

"Here is a remarkable leader who has conducted her life in the full view of the public and that has included raising her children, and there's something to be admired in that."

Self confessed republican, Ardern would not be drawn on whether New Zealand's status as a constitutional monarchy was discussed. 

"But needless to say it was very warm and very focused on New Zealand," Ardern said. But the issue of New Zealand becoming a republic was not on her agenda. 

Ahead of her meeting, the Prime Minister was still considering whether or not to offer her condolences to the Queen for the loss of her last remaining corgi, Willow, at the weekend, but said the moment never felt right. 

Ardern's cat, Paddles, died last year, and she said she was touched when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had some kind words for her. But she said it was also very soon after Willow was put down due to cancer, and raising it could be painful. 

Ardern is greeted by the Queen as partner Clarke Gayford trails behind.

Ardern is greeted by the Queen as partner Clarke Gayford trails behind.

TOAST OF THE TOWN

Ardern would also attend the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace - the welcome dinner hosted by the Queen in the palace picture gallery. Ardern was also one of only two Commonwealth leaders to be given a special honour at the dinner of making a toast. 

Ardern had been asked by the palace to make a toast to the Commonwealth, while Ghana would be toasting the Queen. Ardern would be doing so draped in a korowai from London-based Ngati Ranana and a specially designed maternity dress by Juliette Hogan. 

"I very thankfully have a friend in Juliette Hogan and she's made a dress that will accommodate my front pack.

"And the Korowai that I'll be wearing is Ngati Ranana, from here in London."

Ardern would also attend the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace - the welcome dinner hosted by the Queen in the palace ...

Ardern would also attend the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace - the welcome dinner hosted by the Queen in the palace picture gallery.

It was expected about 16 members of the royal family would be in attendance at the dinner. Ardern would be sitting with Trinidad and Tobago and Sri Lanka at her table. 

Ardern is in London to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM); a forum with 52 other nations. On the sidelines of the meeting she had already met Prince Charles and Camilla, who hosted her and Gayford at their private residence, Clarence House. 

Ardern said of that meeting the next in line to the throne was "very gracious" and had shown a genuine and knowledgeable interest in New Zealand. 

 - Stuff

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