Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Royals: A Once in a Lifetime Moment!

I'd known for a while that our annual foray to Katoomba Easter Convention in the Blue Mountains would coincide with a Royal visit. And before last week's vomiting bug had done its best to sap all the verve out of us, the idea of joining the throng had seemed like a good idea. I believe I may have even said something to Eleanore along the lines of this being a "once in a life time" opportunity.

Parents should never use those words to their children. They are bound to regret them.

Post-vomiting bug, it was all I could do to muster enthusiasm for eating and drinking. Okay the illness was over, thank goodness, but packing for five (my husband still packs for himself, bless him) to go on our annual trek to the mountains for Easter almost did me in. 

Arriving was an achievement. I was happy to rest on our laurels. In fact I craved rest, whether it was on laurels or not.
But Miss Nine has the memory of an elephant - she NEVER FORGETS!!
"Mum! Are we going to see the Princess?"
Me: Um, no. Probably not.
"But you said it was a once in a lifetime opportunity!"
Me: Yes well we won't know until we've lived a lot longer than this...
"Mum. I really want to go. I want to see the Princess."
Me: Hmm, yes, well, I'm just going to close my eyes and have a short nap. I think the weather might not be so good. Let's decide later.

On the morning of the Royal visit we woke up to clear blue skies and glorious sunshine. (Typical.) The newspaper said to turn up at Echo Point in Katoomba between 11am and noon. At 10.15am I gave in to Eleanore's relentless enthusiasm (and perhaps my own guilt at having had childhood longings to meet a princess) and guardedly suggested that we drive up to Echo Point to see how close we could get. I figured if the crowds were already huge, we'd call it a day. Cars were starting to park in the side streets, and the Police had cordoned off the area closest to Echo Point. However we managed to park just one street back and walk the easy distance down to the lookout.

On the way out I'd grabbed a bunch of flowers from the garden. Dahlias and camellias aren't the hardiest of flowers, but after wrapping the stems in foil, I hoped they'd last the distance.


Well, the wait began.
We had chosen a spot three quarters of the way down the hill, and had a one person spot at the barricade which Mim dutifully held on to while Ellie and I stood behind. As the hours progressed, and the sun shone down, I did lament a) no hats, b) no chairs c) the need for personal space as the crowds built and the crush of bodies intensified. Mim started to flail. I could hardly blame her. It was so hot, and we were SO BORED!

The woman standing behind us was an English tourist. She admitted to having NEVER seen a Royal before. What? NEVER? Her confession was met with amazement and scoffing (okay, I was the main scoffer) by the crowd around us. What? You live in South London and you've NEVER seen a Royal?
"Well on television," she said sheepishly.
"Anyone can do that!" Ellie exclaimed. (I'd taught her well..) The woman told us she'd heard on the radio that the Royals weren't due to arrive until 1pm. I almost felt like crying, and Mim did a bit. A stiff upper lip was needed by all of us!

The German tourists beside us offered to place our wilting flowers on top of their backpack. "I don't think it's going to help much" I said sadly, looking at the disintegrating camellias that moaning Mim was now steadfastly refusing to hold on to.

Fortunately my Mum arrived armed with ice creams for the girls and some lovely vibrant green and red bottlebrush flowers from her garden. Natives! And they matched Ellie's dress. I could feel a strategy forming in my mind. Meanwhile, an elderly lady had wheedled in behind us with a fluffy yellow chicken in a cellophane box held high. She showed it to everyone, pointing out a little red button on the side. "If you press it, (the German tourists and I held our breath, it didn't look good) it goes cheep cheep". "It's for the Duchess." She repeated over and over again. Hmm.

Suddenly, after an interminable wait, there was action. There were cavalcades, there was cheering we craned our necks to see what the heck was happening. There they were…and they were walking fast.


and they continued walking - right on by us. Kate looked stunning. We all oohed and ahhed to our heart's content!


There were some official shenanigans and a posing session in front of the glorious view.
This is my favourite pic:

source
After the official shots were taken with the glorious views as backdrop, the entourage started making its way back up towards us. We had no expectations. We'd seen royalty. We were excited and happy.

Suddenly a very tastefully dressed women stepped in front of us.
A lady-in-waiting for sure!
"Would you like to step over the barricades and hand your flowers to the Duchess personally?" she asked, looking at Eleanore who was clutching the bottlebrush with astounded glee.
"Yes we jolly well would!" I found myself almost shouting back. "I mean," ahem, "Ellie certainly would!" I continued, shoving my daughter forward.
Who knew? I'd turned instantly into a pushy stage mother.
We turned to the German tourist behind us for a hand. He obligingly hoisted Eleanore over the top of the railing. And there Ellie stood, amongst a small group of girls - who all had something to give the Royal couple and all with mothers who couldn't believe their luck!

Wouldn't you know it, the wiley woman behind me shoved her fluffy yellow chicken into the hands of the lady-in-waiting, who dutifully passed it to Ellie to hand over.
I fervently hoped the Duchess didn't think it was from us!!


And suddenly Royalty was upon us.
Oh no, Kate is seemingly mesmerised by the chicken.


And drat! Now William has seen it too.


Here's Eleanore (hopefully) explaining to William that we had NOTHING to do with the chicken.


Here's Ellie looking at me, like, am I doing okay Mum?
You're doing fine.


The chatting lasted at least seven and a half minutes. Maybe eight..

Kate's wrap dress was by Diane Von Furstenberg, and sold out online in eight minutes.
Eleanore's outfit was by Gymboree and her shoes were $3 from Aldi.
We are boxing up her outfit in acid-free tissue - Ellie's orders!

And so Ellie got to meet a Prince and Princess (and/or Duke and Duchess) and indeed have her once in a lifetime moment.
Which turned out to be more amazing and magical than we could have ever dreamed of.

The excitement lasted for days.
We're still smiling about it.

We practically went viral on Facebook.

There's video too (the German tourists sent us some - so sweet of them!). We may never tire of watching it...


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