William leaves Kate for N.Z., Australia trip

LONDON Wed Mar 9, 2011 9:24am GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Prince William is to leave bride-to-be Kate Middleton and fly to Australia and New Zealand to meet those affected by recent natural disasters, his office said on Wednesday.

William will first fly out on March 17 to Christchurch in New Zealand which was hit by a devastating earthquake last month which killed at least 166 people, including some Britons, and heavily damaged much of the city.

The prince, who will be representing Queen Elizabeth, will attend a National Memorial Service on March 18 and will also visit Greymouth where 29 miners were killed in the country's worst mining disaster in nearly 70 years last November.

The following day, he will travel to Australia where he will spend two days visiting towns and areas affected by floods and cyclones in Queensland which killed more than 35 people, swamped homes and destroyed infrastructure.

William, who last visited Australia and New Zealand in January 2010, will finish the trip by visiting northwest Victoria, also hit by flooding.

Middleton, who has accompanied the prince on several recent, highly-publicised official engagements in the run-up to their wedding on April 29, will not join him for the trip.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison)

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