Tolkien fan Prince Charles marked his 64th birthday with a tour of Middle Earth on Wednesday, 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.
He examined props from director Jackson's Hobbit series and met actor Peter Hambleton, who was wearing full make-up as the dwarf Gloin and swore an oath of fealty to serve the British royal.
"I can't tell you how grateful I am -- the best birthday present I've had in a long time," Charles responded.
The prince and his wife Camilla also attended a party at Government House along with 64 people who share the same birthday as Charles, ranging in age from 18 to 101.
After a military band played "When I'm 64" by the Beatles, he sampled New Zealand delicacies including fried mussel fritters and pavlova for dessert.
The royal couple took advantage of sunny weather to meet crowds on the Wellington waterfront, although minders were on high alert after a security scare involving a protester ahead of a similar walkabout in Auckland on Monday.
Republican Sam Bracanov admitted Tuesday he had planned to hurl manure at the prince while he was in Auckland. But there was no sign of the 74-year-old in Wellington after a court ordered him to stay away from the royals.
Charles and Camilla are on the last leg of a tour to mark Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee which has also included Papua New Guinea and Australia. The trip is due to end on Friday.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]