Royal rush of excitment
WHEN 102-year-old Betty Evans heard Prince William was visiting Cardwell the first thing she said to her carer was, ‘‘ Right, what am I wearing?’’
The Rockingham Home resident, who has lived in Cardwell since she was 21, celebrated her 102nd birthd a y b y me e t i n g P r i n c e William during his whirlwind tour of the North on Saturday.
Prince William spent several minutes chatting with Mrs Evans who was among around 50 rest home residents evacuated to Townsville before Cyclone Yasi hit on February 2.
Clutching a birthday card from the Prince’s grandmother she chatted with him and afterwards declared him ‘‘ charming’’.
After flying over the region in a Black Hawk helicopter, the prince said that the scenes of damage and destruction were ‘‘ unbelievable’’, with flood waters from recent heavy rains still vis- i b l e f a r i nl a nd. On t he ground, however, locals were jubilant as they concentrated on their royal guest instead of their cyclone devastated town.
A crowd of over 2000 waved, screamed, clapped and wolfwhistled as William landed on the Cardwell Sports oval.
When he stepped out waving locals called out ‘‘ thanks for coming William, thank you so much for coming’’.
It was a scorching 35C day and t he Prince, wearing slacks and an open-neck shirt, was obviously feeling the heat, but instead of making straight for the airconditioning he stopped to talk to as many people as possible, s haking hands, chatting and even receiving a marriage proposal.
‘‘ He said no thank you, because he i s al r eady engaged,’’ said six-year-old Clare Mooney. ‘‘ I would love to be princess, mum told me I should wait until Harry comes here and try again.’’
Maxine Millwood, whose Cardwell home was inundated with sand during Cyclone Yasi managed to shake the prince’s hand. She said he was lovely and did his mother proud.
‘‘ Look at everyone,’’ said.
‘‘ I haven‘ t seen smiles like this in town for a lot of weeks – this is just what we needed. I just hope someone got a photo of me shaking his hand!’’ Mrs Millwood said.
‘‘ Everyone has been talking about this visit, and I think they will be talking about it for a long time to come.’’ Premier Anna Bligh, who t r a v e l l e d w i t h P r i n c e William, said he was a ‘ real people person with plenty of passion’.
‘‘ And you can‘ t get too much of that in Cardwell right now. I can feel the great spirit in the town. I‘ ve never seen smiles like this since the cyclone came through.’’
Major General Mick Slater, the head of Queensland‘ s reconstruction task force was another fan.
‘‘ There have been plenty of hi g h-p r o f i l e p e o p l e v i s i t here, but I haven’t seen anyone draw crowds like this and generate the enthusiasm this guy has,’’ he said.