Manawatu a favoured stop for royals
A senior British royal last visited Feilding in 1954, as part of a whistlestop tour. Thousands of people gathered in central Feilding to watch the 27-year-old Queen's train pass through the town en-route to Palmerston North.
The Queen stayed overnight in the city with her husband, Prince Philip, at the Grand Hotel in The Square, and thousands of people stood outside for hours, applauding and cheering when the couple waved from the balcony. Next morning, the crowds returned to see the royals depart by train.
By 1970 the train no longer stopped in The Square in Palmerston North, but the Queen did go for a stroll in front of thousands of onlookers. The Queen last visited Manawatu in 1977.
A then 21-year-old Prince Charles was with her on the trip, but did not visit Palmerston North.
A Manawatu Standard editorial at the time recalled "the Queen was not greeted with the same fervour in 1970 as in 1954.
It was not particularly surprising. The welcome was still a warm one, but her actual time in the city was brief, concentrated on Massey and the research institute."
The earliest royal visit the Manawatu Standard could find in its archives was that of Prince Edward in 1920. The son of King George V and Queen Mary, the future King Edward VIII was the Prince William of his day.
After an hour in The Square he boarded the royal train, still smiling, still waving his hat, and special constables had to hold back the crowds rushing at him.
Seven years later the current Queen's parents, Prince Albert and his wife Elizabeth, the then Duchess of York, walked on to the band rotunda in The Square to an "ominous creaking sound".
The duchess looked toward the source of the noise, a tree that was struggling under the weight of men who had climbed it for a better view.
The Manawatu Standard reported that as the "arboreal sightseers were precipitated earthwards [but without receiving injury] . . . the little duchess had a fit of the giggles".
Manawatu has had visits from minor royals since 1977. In 2010 the Queen's cousin, the Duke of Gloucester Prince Richard, visited Linton Military Camp, while Prince Andrew visited Palmerston North in 1998.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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