Written by Sarah Ryder -
I’ve been reflecting on the royals, prompted no doubt by the much-hyped Oprah interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the recent passing of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and the upcoming Queen's Birthday weekend. A life of public service, duty and always being in the spotlight can’t be easy, yet royals such as Queen Elizabeth II manage it with dignity and aplomb.
Many of the life story clients I work with mention brushes with royalty in their stories. Sometimes they’re impressed, at other times they’re underwhelmed or disappointed but always, the encounters are memorable moments.
The milestones in the lives of the royal family also provide a backdrop to what’s going on in our own lives. People will often mention their recollections of learning to sing God Save the Queen instead of God Save the King following the death of King George VI in 1952. Others can remember where they were when they first heard the news of the King’s sudden passing.
Many older Nelsonians have recollections of seeing the Queen during one of her New Zealand visits. Queen Elizabeth II visited Nelson in 1954, 1963, 1974 and 1986 and during those two early visits in particular, thousands from all over the province flocked to the city and lined the streets dressed in their best clothes, waiting to catch a glimpse of her.
I’ve never met a member of the royal family and as someone born in the 1970s, my recollections of royalty are a little different. For me, the big moment was the ‘fairytale’ wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and being allowed to stay up late to watch it. I also remember avidly watching the Martin Bashir interview with Diana, Princess of Wales in 1995, which seemingly confirmed many of the gossip mag rumours we’d been hearing about for years.
I was living in London when Princess Diana died on 31 August 1997. I recall the disbelief I felt when a taxi driver told my friend and I about the accident. We’d just had a great night out in Soho and could not comprehend it. The mood in the city for days afterwards was sombre, turning to anger, particularly in relation to the actions of the paparazzi after the accident. I recall seeing thousands upon thousands of bouquets, cards and messages outside the gates of Buckingham Palace.
My own grandmother in New Zealand passed away just three days before Princess Diana, so for me, the death of a Taumarunui tearoom waitress and the most famous woman in the world will be forever intertwined.
What are your royal recollections?