Royal rush of ex­cit­ment

Townsville Bulletin - - News - by Natalie Dixon

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.

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