Te Aroha cel­e­brates its royal wed­ding


Un­der grey skies rem­i­nis­cent of a typ­i­cal English spring day, the Union Jack whipped in the wind next to a flut­ter­ing Stars and Stripes.

Royal china dat­ing to the Queen’s visit to New Zealand in 1953 was laid on tables groan­ing with club sand­wiches and scones with jam and cream.

Tea tow­els adorned with the faces of the monarch hung from bunting above.

Be­fit­ting its name, love was the theme of the day in the typ­i­cally sleepy Waikato town of Te Aroha on Satur­day.

Royal en­thu­si­asts donned hats and tightly belted coats for a lo­cal cel­e­bra­tion of the nup­tials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Some wore their orig­i­nal wed­ding dresses to par­take in a mass recom­mit­ment cer­e­mony in the shadow of the moun­tain at mid­day.

Among them were Auck­land cou­ple Avalon and John Fryer. They led the pro­ces­sion of ‘‘roy­als’’ dressed as the Queen and Prince Philip for the day.

They’d trav­elled down to sup­port or­gan­iser Angela Thomp­son - a de­vout roy­al­ist who’d or­gan­ised the day.

‘‘This is the first time we’ve done [Philip] and the Queen. We have been Camilla and Charles be­fore.’’

The cou­ple were not de­vout roy­al­ists, but be­lieved the royal wed­ding gave peo­ple a fan­tas­ti­cal hope.

‘‘Meghan is a com­moner and it’s a fo­cal point that you can achieve ... it’s a change in the monar­chy and a slightly more lib­eral en­ergy,’’ Avalon said.

‘‘It also gives peo­ple an op­por­tu­nity to for­get their own has­sles in life.’’

The Fry­ers canned plans to re­new their vows on their 50th wed­ding an­niver­sary next year and in­stead joined oth­ers at the flag­pole at mid­day.

Along with them were Paeroa cou­ple Robin and Colin Moore.

The pair met at a dance in Taranaki and have been mar­ried 29 years.

‘‘I’d been on my own for six months and my friend took me to a solo dance group.

‘‘The first per­son I met was Colin. We’ve been to­gether ev­ery day since.’’

Robin wore her orig­i­nal wed­ding dress made from net­ting and lace tiers and trimmed with a hooped bot­tom.

She made it her­self, tak­ing two days to sew the gown to match two pale pink brides­maid dresses she had her daugh­ters wear.

‘‘I just think it’s re­ally nice to re­new your vows af­ter all these years we’ve been to­gether and had a re­ally, re­ally good mar­riage.’’

She an­tic­i­pated the royal cou­ple would be feel­ing ‘‘very ner­vous’’ ap­proach­ing the cer­e­mony.

Meghan, she ex­pected, would wear a sleek, fit­ted gown, ‘‘noth­ing too poufy’’.

‘‘I’ve fol­lowed the roy­als since I was a child and I just think it’s won­der­ful to have some­one like that to look up to.’’

And their ad­vice for the royal cou­ple was to ‘‘just look af­ter each other and care for each other first’’.

At mid­day, an in­jured back meant Colin had to sit out the vow re­newal, but a proxy from the au­di­ence was brought in, amid cheers from the crowd.

A scat­ter­ing of other cou­ples also joined hands to re-ce­ment their love.

‘‘Love makes the world go round,’’ the ap­pro­pri­ately named cel­e­brant Wanda Brit­tain told those in the crowd.

‘‘Love makes you think about some­one else, more than you think about your­self.’’

As the rain threat­ened, she re­as­sured those re-ty­ing the knot.

‘‘Rain on the wed­ding day is very lucky - it means you’re go­ing to have a happy and fer­tile wed­ding.’’

She asked whether those present wanted to re­new their com­mit­ment to each other, to which a re­sound­ing ‘‘we do’’ rang out.

The cou­ples were then asked to seal the deal the ‘‘old fash­ioned way’’. That was Robin’s proxy’s cue to leave.

‘‘We all need love in our lives,’’ Brit­tain fin­ished.

A mass flock of pi­geons were then re­leased into the skies be­fore the day ad­journed in­side to a feast of tea, scones and cu­cum­ber sand­wiches served on Thomp­son’s china.

Orig­i­nally from Berk­shire, just out­side Wind­sor, Bri­tish born Thomp­son has col­lected 8000 pieces of china.

Among them were Harry and Meghan’s wed­ding china, Kate and Wil­liam’s en­gage­ment pieces and the Queen’s 90th com­mem­o­ra­tive set.

The Te Aroha lo­cal hoped to watch the royal wed­ding with Bill, her hus­band of al­most 60 years, at the lo­cal hospi­tal, where he’s re­cov­er­ing from a stroke.

Angela Thomp­son serves the royal party, Re­becca Os­borne, James Wil­liams and John Howlett.

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