Birthday cards on display at Princess Diana exhibit for public to sign
As the widely celebrated, once-in-a-lifetime exhibit “Diana, A Celebration” comes to a close at the Museum Center next month, it won’t do so without some very special messages from the Tri-State.
“July 1 would have been Princess Diana’s 53rd birthday and so, we are the only stop on this tour that has had the exhibit during her birthday,” Jenna Kehrt, with the Museum Center, said.
And not only Princess Diana’s birthday, but also her wedding anniversary, which would have been July 29. Cincinnati will be home to the exhibit for both dates, which is something the Museum Center staff does not take for granted.
They will celebrate the princess’ birthday with two very large birthday cards on display for the public to sign, as well as some other interactive festivities throughout the day.
“We’re also having a Google hangout to really celebrate her birthday and we’re kind of making this all about Diana for the month of July,” Kehrt said.
And there’s still time to view these rare items, but you’ll need to hurry. If you miss it this time, you won’t have another chance.
“If you don’t see it here, you’ll never see these artifacts together, ever again, so we’re really encouraging people to come in now and get in early, try and beat the rush,” Kehrt said.
The birthday cards will be sent to Princess Diana’s family at the end of the exhibit in mid-August.
Close to 50 000 “indienne” printing blocks, this is the real treasure that propelled SOULEIADO among the monuments of the French textile industry heritage. Its story is a magnificent one: that of the “indiennes”, vividly colored cotton fabrics imported from the Great Indies to the coastal port of Marseille at the end of the 16th century.
Soon, these bright, color-fast fabrics, then unknown, seduce the greater Provence, from Languedoc to the Riviera. The region starts distributing them throughout the country and they become the favorite fabrics for the next centuries, holding strong through several crisis.
As we finish the fashion series on What Diana Wore in AUSTRALIA on the Royal Tour in 1983 we have come across this rare collectible photo booklet on the tour and are pleased to offer it for sale to collectors.
May 18, 1992 marks 25 years since Truro welcomed a very special visitor to the city.
In 1989 Princess Diana was in Cornwall to visit Freshfield drug counselling centre where she was a patron.
Crowds gathered along the streets outside the office, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Duchess of Cornwall.
Dozens of children had a holiday from school to welcome the royal guest and handover handmade posies.
More than 50 Cornish cadets were also in Truro to mark the occasion, as the Princess was also patron of the British Red Cross Youth.
During her visit to Freshfield, the Princess met the Bishop of Truro, Reverend Peter Mumford and other civic dignitaries.
At the end of the hour long visit, Princess Diana signed the visitor’s book and a photograph of herself.
Afterwards staff at Freshfield called the visit a “prestigious event”.
Freshfield administrator, Stephen Large, said at the time: “Having the Princess here has given Freshfields respectability and credibility.”
As well as visiting the capital, Princess Diana opened a disabled centre at Saltash and inspected a housing association development at Torpoint during her five hour trip to the Duchy.
Kate Middleton’s blue sapphire engagement ring, which originally belonged to Princess Diana, is now valued at 300,000 pounds – a tenfold increase to the valuation of the jewellery.
Vashi Dominguez, jewellery expert said on ITV’s This Morning that it was Duchess’ quiet confidence to lead as a style icon that made the ring featuring 14 diamonds around a 12-carat sapphire so special, Daily Express reported.
The blue sapphire was worth 28,000 pounds when bought in 1981. The ring has topped the world’s top 20 most famous engagement rings followed by Duchess of Cornwall’s an Art Deco design worth 100,000 pounds, and Michelle Obama’s ring given by Barack Obama in 1991.
SYLVIA St Clair has read for royalty, politicians, criminals and judges and now the “psychic to the stars” has moved back to the inner west where her career began many years ago.
The psychic medium and spiritual healer claims to have discovered her gift as a child and has held many psychic fairs, seminars and workshops in positive thinking and healing therapies over the years.
St Clair was dubbed the “psychic to the stars” after reading for countless celebrities including Princess Diana, Count Anton von Faber Castell and many famous actors and film stars from Australia and overseas.
She has also read for criminals, high court judges, politicians and members of the Roman Catholic seminary.
“I have been doing readings for 46 years and I’m still going strong,” she said.
“I am thrilled to be back in Sydney and I love helping people with my abilities. I look forward to hearing from my old clients too.”
St Clair read for Princess Diana when her marriage to Prince Charles was in trouble. Picture: Ted Holliday Source: News Corp Australia
St Clair is perhaps best known for reading for Princess Diana in London, who she described as a “gorgeous, gorgeous creature”.
“It was just after she had found out about Camilla Parker-Bowles,” she said.
“I said to her at the time there would be a conspiracy to get rid of her. On the day of her funeral she visited me, put her hand on my shoulder and said ‘you were right’.”
St Clair predicted that Prince William and wife Kate would “do a lot of good”, as would Prince Harry, who was “bright, cheerful and naughty”.
Rhys’ date with royal couple down under
9:01am Wednesday 30th April 2014 in News
Ammanford’s Rhys Morris and colleague Mele Laku with the photograph of Princess Diana they present to Prince William and Princess Kate on their recent trip to Australia.
A former Ammanford youth worker who has made a new life in down under enjoyed a brush with royalty when he met Prince William and Princess Kate on their recent trip to Australia.
Rhys Morris was chosen by Barnardo’s Australia to present the royal couple with a photograph of Princess Diana opening the Barnardos centre in Sydney in 1988.
Rhys – and colleague Mele Laku – met the Royals at an afternoon reception at the iconic Sydney Opera House.
Rhys, aged 30, said: “It was a fantastic experience and Kate was really nice.
“She spent time speaking to a few people around our table and she seemed really interested which was nice.”
A Barnardo’s spokesman said: “Rhys was nominated because he has done more work in a year than some people have done in a lifetime.”
Rhys previously worked for the Carmarthenshire Youth Service.
ALICE SPRINGS put its best foot forward that historic day in 1983, when Prince Charles, Princess Diana and Prince William began their six-week Australian tour.
After shaking clammy hands and swatting flies on the tarmac, they were driven to the comfortable, if velure-heavy Gap Hotel, which had been nicknamed the Alice Palace for the occasion.
They checked into rooms 303 and 305, and presumably left William with his two nannies before creeping through a gap in the wire fence to spend the afternoon sunbaking beside a local car dealer’s pool.
Charles and Diana meet Paul Hogan at the Melbourne Concert Hall during the 1983 tour. Source: News Limited
Diana was lobster red for the first day of their official engagements, but she put on a brave face. It was not until the next day, in the stifling heat of Tennant Creek, that she paused to whip off her stockings.
William and Catherine’s 10-day trip might sound luxurious in comparison, but they have their own challenges to deal with, the most difficult being a global audience, celebrity culture and a 24-hour news cycle.
While Diana faced intense media scrutiny in her final years, she never had to contend with the voracious appetite of the internet.
The media hounded Diana but the internet was just developing.
If Catherine had slipped off her stockings or had too much sun, like Diana did, it would have been a global scandal; despite much anticipation at Manly Beach, she didn’t even take off her shoes.
News sites shared around the published pictures of Kate, William and George minutes after they were taken, particularly in America, where the couple is adored without any of the cynicism they face in Britain.
“There was less obsession with celebrity in (1983),” says Rayner. “Now (William and Kate) are celebrities as well as members of the royal family.
In a fitting final touch, the Duchess of Cambridge farewelled New Zealand wearing a suit by one of our international fashion success stories.
The navy tweed skirt suit with frayed trims and floral embellishment at the neck is by the designer Rebecca Taylor, born in Wellington and now based in New York.
The designer, who studied fashion design at Wellington Polytechnic (now Massey University), described seeing the Duchess wear her designs in her hometown as overwhelming.
“I am beyond flattered and excited that the Duchess has worn my suit in my hometown,” Taylor told Viva.
“Seeing the image of her about to board the plane reminded me of the time my family and I awaited the arrival of Princess Diana at the same airport years ago. That moment is still really special to me, so now seeing Catherine wear one of my designs in Wellington brings it full circle for me and it’s quite overwhelming.”
The outfit was another example of the Duchess recycling her wardrobe on the tour, having first worn the suit publicly in 2012.
It also follows an earlier reference, of sorts, to New Zealand design, with Catherine wearing an emerald blue coat dress by New Zealand-born, London-based designer Emilia Wickstead earlier in the tour. The newly created bespoke piece was identical to the pink version she had worn in 2012; Wickstead was asked to create a new dress for the Royal Tour.
Angelique Rewiti and her son, Isaiah, 6 months, with the photo of her, aged 8, with Diana, Princess of Wales in Auckland in 1983. Photo / Mark Mitchell
It was more than 30 years ago but Angelique Reweti still vividly remembers the moment she met a young Diana, Princess of Wales.
At the time Mrs Reweti was an 8-year-old dancer in a production of the New Zealand Ballet’s Coppelia, which Diana and her husband attended at Auckland’s St James Theatre.
Being chosen to deliver a bouquet of flowers to the Princess was the thrill of a lifetime.
“It is still really fresh in my memory,” recalled Mrs Reweti, 39.
“I remember all the TV cameras and photographers … she was a real Princess, and when you are an 8-year-old, that’s the stuff of fairytales.
“She was wearing the most beautiful lilac gown and she glided in on the red carpet. It was literally like a fairytale coming to life.”
Mrs Reweti spoke to the Herald with her six-month-old son on her knee. Now working in Maori health, she and her husband have settled in Palmerston North.
“I went up and had to do a little curtsy, and I couldn’t believe she was speaking to me. It seemed to me like she had the voice of an angel.
“She just said, ‘Are you dancing tonight?’. I said yes I was, and she said she was looking forward to seeing me dance. And I remember Prince Charles was standing by her side, but I was more enthralled with Princess Diana.”
The St James is now boarded-up in a state of disrepair. In 1983 the theatre’s management had worked furiously to attempt to rid the venue of the after-effects of vandalism the day before the royals arrival. Foul-smelling liquid had been spilled throughout the theatre.
“I remember the smell, it smelled of rotten fish,” Mrs Reweti said. “Security was really tight.”
A baby to care for means it’s unlikely Mrs Reweti will get to see the next generation of royals.
“It really was a big deal back then. I think people are interested now, but it’s not quite the same,” Mrs Reweti said. “It was huge, I remember we had time off school and all the schoolchildren were waving in the streets.”
It was 1983 when Prince Charles and Diana set off on the grand tour, amid public aspiration and private squabbling. For William and Kate, there has never been any question that Prince George would be left behind. But 31 years ago things were different, as one veteran of the 1983 tour, who wishes not to be named, recalls: “It was a six-week stint. The inclusion of William had gone down badly among older members of the Royal family, and even more so among senior staff.
“They pointed out the many occasions the Queen had gone on tour, leaving Charles and Anne at home – ‘the right and proper place’ for them. In the teeth of heavyweight opposition, Diana won the battle but, as Charles pointed out, and correctly, it didn’t work.”
Diana, Charles and William arriving at Alice Springs in 1983
Back in 1983, the tour managers decided to do the trip the other way round – Australia as the warm-up for New Zealand. It wasn’t a particularly bright idea, and the evidence suggests that not much thought had gone into that sequencing, nor the presence of Prince William – who, at nine months old, was almost exactly the same age as Prince George will be when he arrives Down Under.
From touchdown, there were difficulties. The royal parents found they had to travel much more than would otherwise have been necessary because William was based at a farm at Woomargama in New South Wales. This meant returning there every three or four days, often by air, increasing not only their mileage but the wear and tear on themselves and their staff.
“Charles enjoyed these breaks, but thought his son’s presence was distracting them from the real job, which was persuading the people of Australia that continuing to have a Royal family was a good thing,” recalls one participant in the tour.
“By the end of it, Diana, too, had doubts about having her baby there, though at that time her maternal instincts took precedence over all else. There can be no question that, the way things were organised, the boy slowed the tour down and diffused its focus.”
An additional problem was that each royal tour is built on a template of the previous one. The Australasia visit of 1983 lasted six long weeks, based upon the more leisurely days of the past, when getting to the Southern Hemisphere took longer and required days of downtime to recover. Now, with jet travel and easier access between cities, the same itinerary could have been covered in half the time. Everybody agreed they’d been away too long.
Lessons were learnt. Part of a royal private secretary’s job is to write up a report after the event, detailing the highs and lows. And though the report may gather dust for decades, it is worth its weight in gold when the time comes for a return trip.
How much Edward Adeane – then the Prince’s private secretary – confessed, as he wrote out his notes, to having driven the royal couple too hard, we shall probably never know. But one individual who accompanied the Prince and Princess on the tour recalls: “It was exceptionally gruelling and exhausted them both. The itinerary was largely drawn up by Adeane, who appeared to think his master had been slacking in his duties and had better make up for it.”
There may have been another reason for Adeane’s assiduity. While working on the preparations for the Australian leg, he was shocked to discover that the Princess could not name the capital city of the country she was about to visit.
Meanwhile, official engagements offered a dull similarity for Charles. “The protocol departments that arrange these things always pull out the same file – you might as well do everything blindfold,” the Prince wrote later to his friend, Nicholas Soames, MP. “Not only that but the actual protocol here is so stultifying and rigid. They do stupid things like putting sticky tape in a line along a carpet at a reception and making everyone stand behind the line while we walk along between rows of nervous, drinkless people. They treat the tape line as though it was a 24,000-volt cable!”
The irony was not lost on the Prince – that although the crowds outside exulted in the presence of the royal couple, indoors it was a different matter, as the great and good jockeyed for an introduction. “The trouble with this kind of formality here is that it rubs many Australians up the wrong way and makes them extra-anti and determined to mock the whole thing,” he added.
Charles wrote from bitter experience. A vocal minority had taken to deriding the tour, and the Prince himself. “The fatuous remarks and insults that are made to me; rude things shouted out, gestures made, plastic [Spitting Image-style] masks waved about, unnecessary things written in the papers about me,” he complained.
Inevitably, what separates the two high-pressure tours is not only 31 years and a vast cultural shift, but the difference in the relationship between the principal characters.While William and Kate have been soul-mates for over a decade, sharing everything as equals, by the time Charles and Diana hit Australasia they had been married for only 20 months. There was also a 13-year age gap between them.
The Cambridges in the Far East last September
“The relationship [at that time], though companionable, was not a meeting of equals. He did not discuss affairs of state with her and at difficult moments he would turn to others, not his wife,” wrote the veteran royal correspondent James Whitaker in his book Diana v Charles. With the stress the couple were enduring, it’s remarkable things went as well as they did. But then came the media attention.
As the Princess’s biographer, Sarah Bradford, observes: “It was the beginning of worldwide ‘Di-mania’. Instead of seven photographers being there, there were 70. Before, there’d been one from each newspaper and a couple of freelances. Now they were coming from France, Germany, America and Japan.” The crowds were turning out in their hundreds of thousands, and everyone in the royal party was having to learn on their feet.
“He couldn’t understand that people wanted to see her,” a member of royal household told Bradford. “He couldn’t understand that they wanted to see a beautiful woman, rather than a man in a suit. And that was really sad. It was so unnecessary because together they were absolute dynamite. But one was just aware of a sort of petulance in him and she, I think, found it very difficult, finding how to cope with that. And she was quite emotional at that time, there were tears, she didn’t understand and it was all very stressful.”
Bradford all but points to the tour as the break-point in the Prince and Princess’s relationship. She quotes the staff member as saying: “Things were to go from bad to worse, and Charles’s resentment at his wife’s popularity began to poison their relationship. His puzzlement at people’s reaction to her was palpable – as he once said to a friend, ‘Why do they love her so much? All she ever did was say ‘Yes’ to me…’ ”
Though, inevitably, there will be repetition in the style and shape of the 2014 tour, there the similarities will end. The team behind the Duke and Duchess, led by private secretaries Miguel Head and Rebecca Deacon, are young, media-savvy, and have already distinguished themselves by simultaneously promoting and protecting their charges.
In addition, the dusty notes from Edward Adeane’s day will have offered clues as to where the elephant-traps lie. Prince George will be travelling more to keep up with his parents, staying in three locations. There is also less likely to be a disproportion in interest between William and his bride since, long ago, they worked out a routine that successfully draws attention to both. Inevitably there will be pressures, but the couple know how to face things together. And last but by no means least, they’ll be home, no doubt victorious, in three weeks. Excerpted Telegraph by Christopher Wilson
By Hugo Vickers
As predicted, Prince George is a “wow” in New Zealand.
Prince William issues charming information about his son, tempering his appreciation that babies are demanding of their long-suffering parents, with his obvious delight in Prince George’s every action. Thus we hear that young George is “at his most vocal” at 3am, is, apparently, preparing for his position as “a prop forward” and, said the Prince: “I swear I heard him doing the haka this morning.” To an extent unprecedented, this royal baby has been exposed to the public gaze.
He has been seen arriving in New Zealand, carried down the steps of the plane in his mother’s arms, and most unusually, was even popped into a local playgroup to mix with infant New Zealanders.
He is already spoken of as undertaking his first official royal engagement. This sort of thing never happened in previous generations.
The maxim that children should be seen, but not heard was applied in full measure to earlier royal babies.
Traditionally, the arrival of royal progeny met with political involvement from the start, with the Home Secretary required to be at the birth.
This was on account of the “bed pan” incident in the reign of James II. The king’s wife, Mary of Modina, had lost eight babies to miscarriages or infant mortality. Despite 40 courtiers being present, it was thought that a male child may have arrived in the chamber concealed in a bedpan.
In 1840, before Queen Victoria gave birth to her first child, the cabinet, archbishop of Canterbury, bishop of London and Lord Steward gathered outside the royal bedchamber. The door was open and the Lord Steward could see and hear all that went on. Moments after her birth, the infant Princess Victoria (later Empress Frederick) was carried naked into the outer room and laid on a prepared table to be inspected by the councillors.
When the Queen and Princess Margaret were born, Home Secretaries were on the premises but George VI, wisely, terminated this practice before the birth of Prince Charles. Today, royal babies are born in hospitals, so their first public showing comes a day after the birth, when they are carried out into the glare of the media, in their mother’s arms – witness Prince William in 1982, and Prince George in 2013.
The present Queen was born at her grandparents’ house in Bruton Street. She was christened at Buckingham Palace. When her parents, then the Duke and Duchess of York, left for a trip to New Zealand and Australia from January to June 1927, she was left in the care of her grandparents, George V and Queen Mary.
Known to be a stern father, feared by his own children, George V was a more relaxed grandfather. There are accounts of him on all fours, playing with the infant princess and allowing her to tug his beard. During his long illness of 1928, she was sent down to Bognor occasionally to cheer him up.
A month after Prince Charles was born in 1948, Cecil Beaton recorded the first act of his career: “He interrupted a long, contented sleep to do my bidding and open his blue eyes to stare long and wonderingly into the camera lens, the beginning of a lifetime in the glare of public duty.”
After that, Prince Charles’s public appearances were confined to the occasional photo call with his parents, and “paparazzi” style shots of him in his pram, pushed by his nanny around St James’s Park. When Princess Elizabeth joined Prince Philip in Malta, the baby was left in the care of nannies at home. And later, during her Commonwealth tour of 1953 to 1954, the royal children (admittedly a bit older by then) stayed at Buckingham Palace, joining the Queen Mother at Royal Lodge for weekends.
Things changed with the arrival of Diana, Princess of Wales. In 1983, she and Prince Charles took nine-month old Prince William on their tour of Australia and New Zealand, a visit that in many ways echoes what is happening now.
Prince Charles, Princess Diana and Prince William of Wales Visit to Australia and New Zealand 1983 (Anwar Hussein/ Getty)
Before the trip, Tim Graham took photographs of Prince William with his parents at Kensington Palace. Helpful articles advised the royal parents how to cope on a long flight: “A supply of cheap, small toys can do wonders … A biscuit or sandwich will keep your child going.” They travelled with 90 suitcases and trunks, a pram, baby bouncer, bath, pots of talc and jars of baby ointment.
Their first stop at Alice Springs required a last-minute change of hotel due to flooding. Prince William made a brief appearance in his mother’s arms at the airport, where a fly landed on his head, inspiring the media to report that Prince Charles quipped: “He’s got his first fly on him already. He’s going to be brought up the hard way.”
Prince William was then flown on to the Woomargama homestead, near Albury, the home of businessman Gordon Darling, where the family were to be based. He travelled in the care of his nanny, Barbara Barnes.
The Prince and Princess of Wales with Prince William at Kensington Palace (Tim Graham)
As today with Prince George, the media remained hungry for stories about the infant prince. The Princess of Wales told some children that he liked plastic whales that spat balls out of the top, a favourite toy in his bath. During his Woomargama stay he was reported to have taken his first steps, kept his mother up at night with his teething, taken a dip in the Darlings’ swimming pool – “the Prince of Waves” said the Australian media – and upset a table in a quest for biscuits.
From Melbourne, the royal party flew to New Zealand, where Prince William made a celebrated appearance in front of 60 reporters and photographers, playing with a wooden insect on the lawn.
Though the media has become more cynical and less respectful, they are enjoying Prince George’s tour with just as much zest as they did Prince William’s, 31 years ago.
Princess Diana’s last letter sells for £2,400 at Birmingham auction
Letter was written to landmine campaigner Dilys Cheetham in August 1997
The letter written in August 1997 was the last official letter to be written by Diana before her death
Princess Diana’s last official letter has sold for £2,400 at an auction in Birmingham.
The note, to a humanitarian campaigner, was bought by a private buyer at Fellows Auctioneers on Monday.
Mark Huddleston, of Fellows, said: “We’re generally pleased with the final hammer price for this lot.
“It went for well within the expected estimate and received a lot of attention in doing so.
“The letter’s new owner will no doubt appreciate the importance of this historical document.
“Who knows, in the future it may well be under the hammer again.”
The letter was written on Kensington Palace-headed notepaper to landmine campaigner Dilys Cheetham to thank her for her work in Bosnia.
The document was dated just three weeks before the princess died in a Paris car crash in August 1997 and signed “with love from Diana”.
Ms Cheetham, from Richmond, North Yorkshire, died in 2006, having sold the letter to celebrity photographer Jason Fraser in a 1999 charity auction to raise money for landmine victims.
He then sold the letter to a private collector in 2007 – the tenth anniversary of Diana’s death.
In the letter to Ms Cheetham, Diana revealed her own trip to Bosnia earlier in the month of her death had “strengthened her resolve” to spread the message about landmine victims.
The Royal wrote: “There was not enough time for me to visit the Mostar area while I was in Bosnia but I was able to visit a number of anti-personnel landmine victims and their families.
“I could not help but be deeply moved by the experience which hardened my resolve to ensure the world does not forget that those who have been so needlessly maimed by these terrible weapons will need care and support for many years to come.”
Princess Diana told how she ‘could not help but be deeply moved’ after visiting landmine victims in Bosnia in her last official letter written before her tragic death.
The hand-signed note, on Kensington Palace-headed paper, was dated August 11, 1997 and was sent to humanitarian campaigner Dilys Cheetham.
In it, the Princess of Wales thanked Ms Cheetham for delivering aid to refugee camps in the Mostar region of Bosnia.
The Princess had herself just returned from a three-day visit to Bosnia as part of her crusade against landmines.
In the heartfelt letter, she wrote: ‘There was not enough time for me to visit the Mostar area while I was in Bosnia but I was able to visit a number of anti-personnel landmine victims and their families.
‘I could not help but be deeply moved by the experience.’
She added the trip ‘hardened my resolve to ensure the world does not forget that those who have been so needlessly maimed by these terrible weapons will need care and support for many years to come’.
The moving letter was sent just weeks before her tragic death in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997.
It is now expected to fetch up to £3,000 when it is auctioned off in Birmingham this week.
Ms Cheetham, from Richmond, North Yorkshire, died in 2006.
One was the head of security during Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s royal visit to Australia in 1983; the other cheekily evaded security, handing Di a Eureka flag, which she accepted, apparently not understanding its incendiary intent.
As Canberra prepares for the royal touchdown of Prince William, Kate and baby Prince George on Sunday, the national capital can lay claim to some key figures from William’s first tour to Australia 31 years ago.
David Evans, 85, of Chapman, was head of the protective security for the Commonwealth government at the time, responsible for the safety of ministers, visiting dignitaries and heads of state.
Former PSCC [Protective Security Co-Ordination Centre] member David Evans with a signed photo of Prince Charles and Princess Diana at his Chapman home. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Formerly of Narrabundah, now of Moruya, Stan Spurek, meanwhile, was a delegate for the Builders Labourers Federation on the site of the new Parliament House, during a royal walkabout when he handed Princess Diana a small Eureka flag on March 24, 1983. The exchange made headlines.
Mr Spurek said the flag, long a symbol of the anti-establishment, was really his way of calling for a republic. He was reported at the time saying the royals were lovely people and welcome any time to Australia but ”we’d like our own independence”.
”She was very nice and she said, ‘Thank you very much’,” he said, this week.
Former PSCC [Protective Security Co-Ordination Centre] member David Evans’ photo of Prince Charles and Princess Diana at his Chapman home. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
”It was something I did plan but didn’t think I would get away with it. But it worked out pretty well.”
Prince William and Prince George were almost the same age – nine months – for their debut visit to Australia but there were reports at the time that some in the royal circle wanted William kept back in England to avoid any distractions. (George turns nine months on Tuesday.)
Mr Evans said he had been told by the Queen during a visit to Australia in late 1982 that Prince Charles and Princess Diana would visit the next year with Prince William and asked him to find a suitable hideaway for the baby and his nannies and protective staff.
He helped come up with the Woomargama homestead near Albury in southern NSW, owned by BHP director Gordon Darling and his then wife Margaret. (Mr Darling and his second wife Marilyn would go on to be instrumental in the establishment of the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.)
Needless to say, Mr Evans now says as soon as the British media landed in Australia they not only knew the exact location of the homestead but a small hideout for a photographer was discovered not far from the property. Mr Evans said the intervention of the service eventually kept the media at bay.
Mr Evans flew to Alice Springs to welcome the royal family to Australia in 1983. He then accompanied Prince William on each leg as he was flown from Alice Springs to Canberra and then to Albury, before arriving at the homestead by road.
”I said [on the way to Canberra] to [the entourage], ‘Before we do anything, a future king is in the cot. Health to the future king’. And we all toasted him,” he said.
Mr Evans said he was given a signed photograph of Prince Charles and Princess Diana as a thank-you at the end of the tour, but both he and his wife Patricia were disappointed the photograph did not include William, symptomatic of his tour.
He wrote to Kensington Palace late last year to recommend they include Prince George in any official thank-you photograph from this tour. Mr Evans received a reply that his points had been noted and that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge sent their very best wishes.
Mr Spurek, meanwhile, is not expecting any letters from the royals. He said as a BLF delegate back in 1983, he could probably move more freely around the Parliament House site. Police had tried to stop him from giving the flag to Diana but she reached out and took it, appearing not to realise its significance.
Mr Spurek, 66, was reluctant to say whether he’d repeat the stunt when William and Kate visit Canberra but since The Canberra Times tracked him down, his resolve towards a republic seems to have hardened, preparing a sign that read: ”It’s time Willy. Do it for Kate and George and Australia.”
”I still believe in it,” he said. ”What I did back then was a personal thing, and I just went with it.”
Looking back over a long career in journalism, it’s funny what sticks in the memory. Being barked at by Rob Muldoon, covering my first fire fatality, lunching with Bob Jones, these are early reporting memories.
But from those distant days – and the years since – it is hard to top the headline-grabbing hysteria of the last big royal tour.
As a junior reporter at The Press in Christchurch, I was assigned to follow the Prince and Princess of Wales on walkabout. Poor old Charles barely rated a mention, although it was he who passed the time of day chatting about the weather to me and all those joining him in his young wife’s wake.
The day after, thousands of school girls screamed for Diana to look their way. I was amazed that a gushingly detailed sentence I wrote about Diana’s makeup hadn’t been sub-edited into oblivion. It described her look, right down to the blue mascara she wore. Perhaps this eye for trivial detail was a portent of why I am now a beauty editor. Between times there came a turn editing a women’s magazine when I got flak from readers for a cover line describing the divorced and dating Diana as “Predator Princess”.
It was all celebrity grist to the mill by then, with the goodwill that surrounded the royal couple on their 1983 tour with baby Prince William swept away in the tabloid tide.
So, another generation later, we have the new Royal “glamour” couple, Kate and William, bringing little Prince George Downunder. Expect the same gushing detail – and doubtless a photo op with a Buzzy Bee – but it all feels a bit contrived. We’ve moved on as a nation and, in truth, had already started to do so back in 1983, but for the “fairytale” of the sacrificial virgin wedding the balding one-in-waiting and how it inextricably entwined the monarchy with celebrity circus.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge seem nice enough and best of luck to them as protective parents and in scoping out a happy, productive life together.
Goodwill is in the air again, but let’s not get too carried away. The monarchy has largely lost its mystique. Despite the best efforts of magazines – and unlike the mother-in-law she never met – Kate isn’t truly setting trends in hairstyles and dresses beyond the Home Counties.
Maybe they’re a hoot to hang out with, but the Cambridges come across a bit boring, although this could be a smart way to give themselves and the princeling a bit of breathing space and their institution added longevity.
Whatever politicians and publishers say, I doubt their visit this week will do much to stem the inevitable progression to New Zealand’s eventually becoming a republic.
Memories like mine are being dusted off out of nostalgia rather than pro-monarchist sentiment.
My first “face-to-face” impression of the royals came as a child when the whole neighbourhood lined Hoon Hay Rd in Christchurch to watch Princess Anne drive by on a visit to Princess Margaret Hospital. Flags were waved and hurrahs said.
Later, I made a scrapbook of Princess Caroline of Monaco – my first girl crush – followed by pictures of pop stars, boy bands and Liverpool FC on the bedroom wall. By the time Diana arrived, I was a cub reporter with a love of history and a firm view that the monarchy belonged to Britain.
But there was no denying Diana’s worldwide star power. Cathedral Square hadn’t seen so many people since The Beatles appeared on the balcony of the Clarendon Hotel in 1964. The hotel’s facade and tower fell victim to the Christchurch earthquakes as, of course, did the square’s centrepiece. If the Royals really want to be remembered for something locally – beyond smiling and waving – then perhaps they could use the old Defender of the Faith title to jack up getting something done about the shamefully abandoned pigeon-infested cathedral.