Monday, October 24, 2011

The Royal Visit

I took my daughters to see Queen Elizabeth the Second last Sunday. I didn't particularly want to - we had had a hectic few weeks and we were for once happily lazing around the house. The girls and my wife were also about to go to Cooma for an afternoon tea (I had some work to do so was staying in town).

While I was sitting there trying to think of reasons not to mention it to them, I suddenly realised how much it meant to me to have seen QE2 in Darwin in 1977, during her Silver Jubilee. I knew that this would be something they would probably remember for the rest of their lives. Moreover, in all probability this would be the Queen's last visit to Australia, and who knows what the future of the Monarchy holds for Australia after her passing. The girls weren't particularly keen - they were also happy to take a rare opportunity to lounge around the house.

I guess there was also the thought that it would be silly not to go there, given that Government House (where HM was staying) is only about three minutes' drive from our house.

So we all bundled into the car and drove to Yarralumla. We parked and walked two minutes to Dunrossil Drive. One minute later a few Police motorbikes passed, and then the Royal motorcade went past. We were on the right hand side of the road. Prince Philip was in the right hand seat and Queen Elizabeth was in the left hand seat. Both waved as they went past.

My elder daughter was beside herself ("I saw the Royal Queen", my iPhone video recorded). My younger one was also happy, but not quite as much - being six years old I think there is a limit to how much she can understand. Regardless, they will both be able to retell for the rest of their lives the day they saw the Queen. I can't believe I almost denied them this experience.

How times have changed - in the past the road would have been 10 deep with people cheering. As it was, we could turn up with a couple of minutes to spare and be right on the edge of the road only a couple of metres from our Monarch.

For the record, as well as seeing QE2 in 1977, I was in the crowd at the opening of New Parliament House in 1988. I also accidentally saw her and most of the Royal Family in London once. I was on a business trip in Berkshire and had used a free day to go into London. I took the Tube to Westminster and was planning to walk to Hyde Park. On the way I suddenly found barricades in my way and lots of people standing around. I went as far as I could and after a short amount of time I heard the clip-clopping of horse and carriage. The first one had William, Harry and Charles, then another went by with QE2 and Phil the Greek. Apparently it was Trooping the Colour day, and I had missed the memo.


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