CHARMING PRINCE CHATTER
KEEPING CALM AND CARRYING ON COULDN’T SAVE THE INFORMER FROM HIS AWKWARD ROYAL ENCOUNTERS
Excitement is building among those of a monarchical bent as Australia awaits the arrival of, deep breath, His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales, Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel, otherwise known as Prince Harry, and Her Royal Highness Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, previously known as Meghan Markle and Rachel from Suits.
Time was when a more rebellious Informer was all for Australia casting off the shackles of the House of Windsor to embrace a republican future.
Today though, blissful ambivalence is my guide.
I like the Queen. She’s OK. Sure, the first 170 years of her reign were a tad dour, but the latter 200 years or so have seen her loosen up nicely.
While Informer hasn’t met the Queen, I have chatted to others in her family. Prince Philip was the first, when I was a kid. He and the missus were visiting Tasmania and, taking the opportunity to stretch the royal legs after being cooped up in that awfully cramped Rolls-Royce, they pressed the flesh of a Launceston throng in which Informer was ensconced.
“Hello, young man, you look very smart,” said Philip, clearly taken with a freshly scrubbed Informer standing resplendent in my school uniform and waving my Union Jack. “Thank you, Mr Philip,” I replied, proof that looking smart does not translate to being smart.
The other royals I met during a long career in journalism, starting with Princess Diana and Prince Charles when they toured the Commonwealth shortly after their marriage.
Meeting the masses at a Launceston school, Charles stopped before me and asked: “Do you come from round about?” A nervous Informer, thinking he’d said ‘round Hobart’, replied: “No, I come from round here.”
He moved on quickly. A few seconds later, Diana stopped and asked: “Did you attend this school?” My response was cut short when, to my left, there appeared a grey-sleeved arm which turned out to belong to Prince Charles, who took his bride by the elbow and away from the ignominy of talking to an idiot like me.
I met Prince William during his visit to the Darling Downs after the 2010-11 floods. At one function, we media were herded hither and thither to keep our distance as the young prince spoke to the locals and heard their deeply moving stories. It was impossible not to be impressed by him.
At the time I happened to be nursing a shoulder injury, Cooper Cronk-like in its magnitude — not that it compared to the agony endured by the people of the Downs — and I took the opportunity to take a seat at the back of the hall.
I was clutching my shoulder, grimacing in pain, when a voice said: “Are you all right? Can I help you?” I looked up and it was William. And I was grateful. And I said “No, but thank you.” And it all happened very quickly. And then he was whisked away. And I have never told that story before.
So, if you need any advice on how to behave should Harry or Meghan stop for a natter during their visit, Informer’s probably not the best person to ask.
“DO YOU COME FROM ROUND ABOUT?” A NERVOUS INFORMER REPLIED: “NO, I COME FROM ROUND HERE.”