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.
The simple things in life can sometimes lead to the most wondrous experiences.
It was a handful of glass marbles that drew the attention of the most famous woman in the world to a star-struck Auckland boy.
David – now known as Dave – Fisher was kneeling in the grass as the royal entourage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles were led around Eden Park, at the start of their 1983 tour.
Schools from around Auckland had children stationed in small gatherings for their HRHs to peer at and chat to. Fisher was with schoolmates from St Joseph’s of Orakei.
Thirty-five thousand children sat fidgeting in the open stadium, wondering what they might say if Diana or Charles spoke to them.
Other children had set up games of hopscotch, skip rope and even an arcade game of Donkey Kong.
Fisher was making do with a bagful of marbles, probably not fancying his chances of getting any dignitaries being in the slight bit interested.
Cultural groups, in their traditional dress, were singing for all their worth to entice the Princess of Wales.
Suddenly however, there she was. In an emerald green dress with stripes and spots, white hat, stockings and shoes, a pearl necklace and earrings.
“She asked me what I was doing,” Fisher says. “And I said I was playing marbles.”
And that was it. Fisher’s recollection of meeting Diana.
“I’m still very fond of that memory,” he says.
Now a lighting production contractor, Fisher says he was extremely saddened when Diana died in August 1997.
All the more so as he recalled soft words spoken from a woman who once crouched to the level of a kneeling schoolboy to ask one of the simplest of things.
The couple are due to arrive at Whenuapai to meet RNZAF families at around 11.20am.
They will make a public drive to the Viaduct where it’s expected they will greet crowds.
At 1pm the Duke and Duuchess will race against each other in America’s Cup yachts.
They will travel by Sealegs craft to Westpark Marina.
The car seat incident regarding Prince George is not the first controversy (see article below from NZ HERALD) as his father caused a huge stir prior to the arrival of his Parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1983. According to the Sydney Morning Herald of 20 March 1983 Prince William’s photo holding a kangaroo skin Koala Bear raised a big stir with the RSPCA and the Kangaroo coalition in Australia at the time.
Plunket is in the hotseat after breaching its own infant safety guidelines by installing Prince George’s child restraint back-to-front in the royal limo.
The baby-care agency issued photos of preparations for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit, showing Plunket car seat services technician Aethalia O’Connor installing a seat in the car to be used by the royals.
“If it can’t be installed correctly we need to work out a way we can make it correct,” she said. “We need to make sure the baby is safe.”
The problem was, the car seat was installed facing forward, at odds with Plunket’s official guidelines.
To limit the risk of whiplash, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children remain rear-facing until age 2 or until they reach the seat’s height limit.
Response to the photo was immediate, with dozens of parents going online to point out Plunket’s double standard.
Plunket has previously criticised photos of babies in forward-facing restraints, but last night it was unapologetic.
Chief executive Jenny Prince said Plunket’s role was “to provide advice and work in partnership with parents” to make informed decisions that worked best for them. “Plunket’s priority is to ensure car seats are installed by qualified car seat technicians to ensure they perform correctly. While Plunket recommend that children stay in rear-facing seats until age 2, it is not a legal requirement.”
Plunket spokesman Zac Prendergast said he had spoken to O’Connor, and the seat was installed in line with the parents’ preferences.
The late Diana, Princess of Wales had many occasions to wear dazzling jewels, including on her own tours of Australia and New Zealand in the 1980s. The Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara (left) was made for Queen Mary by Garrard in 1914 and left to Queen Elizabeth in Queen Mary’s will. Elizabeth passed it on to Diana as a wedding present and she wore it on many occasions at home and abroad — including to her farewell State Banquet in Auckland in 1983, with a truly voluminous ivory dress.
The Queen also received several necklaces from Saudi Kings which she loaned to Princess Diana — one of which Diana wore to Australia in 1983. The King Faisal of Saudi Arabia fringe necklace of drop diamonds, made by Harry Winston was given to the Queen on a state visit to the UK in 1967. Nearly 20 years later, Diana teamed it with pearl drops and a ruffled pale blue dress.
Diana also refashioned some jewelry so she could wear it in a more modern way. The Queen gave Diana her famous diamond-and-emerald Delhi Durbar necklace for a wedding present. When she gave it to Diana as a wedding gift, Diana had some Velcro added to the 14-in. long necklace and it became a bejeweled headband that she wore for a charity dance with Prince Charles in Australia in 1984.
“When Diana and Charles made their first visit to Australia in 1982, it was a more formal time. There were galas, and state banquets and big dances,” Field says. “Diana took her diamond and emerald necklace that belonged to Queen Mary and wore it as a headband. Everybody raved about her originality. She may have been showing the modern way of wearing grand jewelry.”
A women’s group has vowed to track down the origin of a diamond silver fern brooch gifted to the Queen in 1953 and worn by the Duchess of Cambridge as she arrived in New Zealand this week.
Reports from the time of the Queen’s visit six decades ago say the intricate pin was a Christmas gift from “the women of Auckland” – but who those women were is a mystery.
The Duchess of Cambridge has been spotted wearing the same grey MaxMara wrap dress she wore when landing in Sydney earlier this week.
The Duchess wore the £310 (NZ$599) V-neck, jersey print dress while waving from the back seat of a car as it arrived at Government House this afternoon.
On Monday morning, Kate looked chic stepping out in the British designed dress, teamed with nude pumps, when transiting through Sydney ahead of the NZ leg of her journey with husband Prince William and son, Prince George.
It seems the 32-year-old is a big fan of recycling clothing – she wore the same wrap dress on a visit to London addiction charity, Hope House, in February.
Kate is expected to have around 32 costume changes during the 45-plus engagements on the three-week trip around Australia and New Zealand, according to Express.co.uk
Meanwhile, Prince George looked relaxed as he arrived for his second public appearance, this afternoon, a playdate with Kiwi kids his own age.
Day Diana told Kiwi: ‘I remember you’
Louise Longuet said Diana liked being just one of the girls at the Institut Aplin Videmanette. Photo / Mark Mitchell
She has never spoken publicly about her secret meeting with Princess Diana at Government House in 1983, but one New Zealand woman will never forget the looks on the faces of a room full of dignitaries as they wondered who the strange woman was being beckoned by royalty.
As a 23-year-old nurse, Wellington woman Louise Longuet was the surveillante (matron) at Institut Aplin Videmanette in Switzerland attended by Lady Diana Spencer in the 1970s.
There to improve her skiing and French as a 16-year-old, Lady Diana was one of 12 girls who lived in a chalet supervised by Ms Longuet.
If you’re out spotting the royals, we want your snaps. Share them with us, including details of where you took the photo, here.
“She was quite young and I think she enjoyed just being one of the girls there,” she said. “She was very natural, I would have said the girl next door.
“She commented something sweet one day along the lines of, ‘my family thought it would good for me to mix with other people’.
“Which made me smile because all these girls were very privileged.”
Ms Longuet also served dinner to the girls, supervised their studies and was responsible for them overnight.
“I slept in the chalet, my bedroom was opposite [Diana's] bedroom door. One night they thought they were being terribly naughty. I could hear them sneaking out but let them go – all they could do was walk around the tiny village, there were about three men the right age so these 50 girls would have made them run for cover.”
Diana did not spend long at the school, and Ms Longuet soon moved on to continue travelling.
Shortly after Diana and Charles wed, Ms Longuet returned to New Zealand with her husband Russell.
A family friend of then Governor-General Sir David Beattie and his wife Lady Norma, the newly married pair were invited to attend a banquet for the royal couple in 1983. “There were 600 people there, 500 were in a marquee and 100 in the main dining room where Charles and Diana were.
Let the Royal Tour begin! Kate Middleton, Prince William, and their adorable son Prince George touched down in New Zealand on April 7 and gave the world the first look at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their 8-month-old boy.
Middleton, 32, wore a red Catherine Walker coat and Gina Foster hat. She is wearing a silver fern diamond and platinum broach loaned by Queen Elizabeth. The Queen first wore the broach during her Commonwealth Tour in 1954.
Her husband dressed in a navy suit with a red tie, and the third in line to the throne sported a cream sweater and white pants.
They flew first class on Qantas Airways, briefly stopping in Dubai before landing at Sydney International Airport. In Sydney, a boisterous George was seen wriggling and kicking as Middleton carried her son through the terminal to their New Zealand military airfare plane for a three hour flight to Wellington. Later today there will be a reception at the Government House in Wellington, which will be the royal family’s New Zealand base as they travel around the country.
The family will spend the next three weeks in New Zealand and Australia on an official tour with plenty of meet and greets and photo ops.
“The Duchess has never visited either country, so this is a chance for her to meet the people of New Zealand and Australia for the first time,” William’s private secretary Miguel Head told the press in early March. “So, for the couple, this visit represents a wonderful opportunity on the one hand for The Duke to deepen his personal relationship with, and admiration for, New Zealand and Australia; and on the other, for the Duchess to experience some of the extraordinary warmth and hospitality for which the people of both countries are renowned the world over.”