Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock recently, you’ll know that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were in town last Monday. I joined the throng at Latimer Square with high hopes and low expectations. You see, I’ve been to Royal Walkabouts three times before and come “this close” to a conversation with Royalty. “Maybe this will be the day!” thought I, “But, lets face it, it probably won’t be.”
Back in’77, when I was just a toddler, my family went along to the Silver Jubilee Walkabout. The Queen stopped to speak my sister, telling her what a pretty dress she was wearing. My sister, with the honesty of a four-year-old, replied “It’s my nightie!” (She had flatly refused to get dressed that morning).
I slept through the whole thing.
Fast forward to 1981. Charles and Diana were engaged, and I thought Lady Di was like Cinderella and Princess Aurora all rolled into one. I treasured my scrapbooks full of carefully clipped pictures of her. The highlight of my childhood was getting to watch The Royal Wedding at our neighbour’s across the street – they had a colour TV! Oh, the dresses! The beautiful horses! The fancy uniforms! I loved it all (Except the Queen Mum’s outfit. I wasn’t impressed. I thought she had some crazy green punk-rock hairdo. Didn’t realize that fluffy nonsense on her head was actually a hat!)
Imagine my excitement when Charles and Diana came to Christchurch in’83. We all headed off for the Walkabout. I was beside myself! My sister didn’t really care. She went along with a “whatever” pre-teen attitude. In fact she was so bored by it all that she brought a book. I had a fantastic spot right at the front, Diana was walking on my side of the street, I was actually going to see her in person! Then, when she was just moments away from me, she swapped sides, and Charles was walking towards me instead. And he walked up to my sister, noticed the book in her hand (it was probably a Jinny and Shantih or something by Christine Pullein-Thompson) and asked her if she rode. They had a whole conversation about horses and show jumping… And once again, I missed out.
While I’m no longer that star struck little girl, I thought it would be pretty neat to see William and Kate, and since Monday was my day off anyway, why not? Miss Missy and I managed to find ourselves a pretty good spot, and once again I waited for the chance to see the Royals. We cought a glimpse of them as they came out of the Cathedral, the crowd was shouting, flags were waving, everyone was craning to see, people were leaning so far over the fence they were practically planking on it. The police officers were literally holding the fence up against the crush of the crowd as Kate was coming slowly closer and closer down our side of Latimer Square. I managed to get some lovely pictures of her, and shook her hand (yes, I have washed it, since) … But no, I didn’t talk to her. The girl standing right beside me though, Kate asked her all sorts of questions. Yip, once again I was “this close!”
Have you ever wondered why Queen’s Birthday weekend is in June when her birthday is in April? Well it turns out it is all because George VI’s birthday was 14 December. I guess everyone thought that was a silly day to have a holiday, so they decided to have the first Monday in June off instead, and when Elizabeth became Queen, I guess everyone was so used to it, they figured why change it? Her Majesty “was graciously pleased” to let us all have a day off in June in honour of her birthday.
I’ve put together a list of my picks from our catalogue in honour of Her Majesty’s big day. And this year we even get to have a day off anyway for Easter.