The Sunday Mail (Queensland)
Protocols for day we met Duke
THERE were a lot of protocols drilled into the Nambour High School students who would meet the Duke of Edinburgh in October 1973, but most confusing was the gloves.
Why would a 17-year-old girl have to wear gloves to shake his hand? Were we too germy? Peasants from the colonies? But we did as we were told and rushed out to buy white gloves.
We were to receive our gold Duke of Edinburgh Award from Prince Philip himself in Maryborough as the culmination of three years of working for each achievement.
Working is probably the wrong word, as it had all been a bit of a lark and lots of fun, although strictly monitored by the awards committee; all logged in a little blue book.
The scheme began in Australia in 1959 and it had been my mother’s idea that I should sign up when it was offered at Nambour High in 1970. In fact, she insisted.
The award has three levels – bronze, silver and gold – each with activities to complete in the categories of Design for Living, Interests, Adventure and Service. And I can thank the Duke for introducing me to some great adventures and lifelong skills.
We hiked miles through the bush using only a compass and carrying a tent, spent a week at the Hervey Bay Leslie Wilson Home and another living at Nambour General Hospital while we trailed the nurses.
There was never a thought that the Duke might actually turn up to present the award that carried his name.
Five of us, proud parents leading the way, duly turned up on a blazing late October day to meet Prince Philip.
I have no recollection of what was said and never fully understood the gravity of the occasion, but I do know that the photo of the two of us took pride of place on my mother’s shelf until the day she died.