Half of New Zealanders tuned in to royal wedding

30th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Half of all New Zealanders tuned in to coverage of the royal wedding, prompting republicans to concede Saturday that Prince William and Kate Middleton's marriage would set back their cause.

Prime Minister John Key, who attended the wedding at Westminster Abbey, said the royal marriage would strengthen ties between New Zealand and Britain.

According to a Nielsen TAM poll, 2.2 million viewers in the land of 4.4 million people watched the wedding at some stage during the marathon five-hour coverage.

Viewers of the actual nuptials were predominately women (64 percent), and the wedding easily outrated coverage on rival channels of the New Zealand Breakers winning the Australian Basketball League final and Super 15 rugby.

The wedding also dominated Saturday newspapers with Key quoted as saying the royal couple were keen to visit New Zealand although it was not their honeymoon destination.

"The first thing Kate said to me was she wants to visit New Zealand. So, very keen to come down, so hopefully we can encourage her to come and visit us sometime very soon," Key said.

But he was sure they will not be honeymooning in New Zealand "from something the Queen said to me the other day."

The pro-royalty organisation Monarchy New Zealand said interest in the royal wedding highlighted the enduring importance of the institution to New Zealanders.

"I thought it was fantastic, a great celebration," said Monarchy New Zealand chairman Simon O'Connor who watched coverage of the wedding with 300 people.

"This is good for the monarchy, (it) brought attention back to why it is something we enjoy being part of."

Even New Zealand Republican Movement chairman Lewis Holden watched the wedding and found it "an amazing spectacle", adding it would likely cause a dip in support for his organisation.

"What we know from Australia (is) the support for the monarchy has gone up, but people are saying this has put republicanism back 50 years, I think that's overstated it quite a bit, maybe five years -- who knows?"

Key said the wedding would strengthen ties between New Zealand and Britain.

"Unquestionably this continues to deepen the support for the royal family," he said.

"My feeling is that many New Zealanders support the retention of the royal family as the head of state. It's not universal and never will be but there is still an overwhelming support."

© 2011 AFP

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