Feilding turns on the charm for royals
Delicacies from a farmers market, plants that will soon grace the grounds of Highgrove House and a family remembering their loved one were just a few memories the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will take with them after visiting Feilding.
About 5000 people turned out to welcome the royal couple to town yesterday. The excitement was palpable before the royal cortege drove down Manchester St and the air filled with cheers, whistles and an impromptu haka as the royal pair stepped out of the car.
Prince Charles and Camilla, wearing a sage green day dress and swing coat ensemble from her favourite designer Anna Valentine, were met by Manawatu Mayor Margaret Kouvelis, and were presented with a posy of yellow and blush pink peace roses by Feilding schoolgirl Sarah Ridsdale.
The couple each took to one side of the road to meet the crowd that had been gathering since mid-morning.
Mrs Kouvelis said she wanted to ensure the couple had a fabulous day.
"It's a chance for us to show off our town and our people."
The Prince of Wales, wearing a grey wool suit and silver and black tie, charmed his way down a line of hands and faces, stopping every now and then to chat a while and ask how people were.
Feilding resident Aloysia Gray laughed when the Prince asked jokingly if everyone was here for the farmers market, while Margaret Clark was flying the flag for Scotland even though she has lived in New Zealand for 51 years.
"He asked me how long I had lived here and commented that I hadn't lost my accent," she said.
Feilding woman Ann Loader said she managed to shake Charles' hand, but missed out on an encounter with Camilla.
"He's got a firm handshake. I thought he might break my fingers."
She said she was not shocked Feilding had turned on the sun for the royals, despite the forecast.
"This is Feilding, after all."
Rongotea farmer Duncan Rowe said he was impressed at the way Prince Charles took an interest in how farmers were coping through the recession and the way dairy farming was conducted in New Zealand.
"He asked how we were doing through the tougher times and had a good understanding of farming."
The couple had specifically asked to see a farmers market and spent a lengthy period talking to growers and producers including plant nursery owners Maureen and Wayne Healey, from Mauways Nurseries in Rangitikei, who are sending hostas to Highgrove House, the couple's residence.
"We sent a letter asking if we could send some and they accepted, so it was lovely to meet them and show them what they would be getting," Mrs Healey said.
Melanie Donne and her dog Rica waited from 9am for a chance to meet Charles and Camilla.
And Ms Donne and Rica did end up meeting the royals, with a bit of help from Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie.
An obviously excited Ms Donne said she was spotted by Mr McKelvie, who let her under the barrier.
She said she told the couple it was a thrill to see them and wished them a safe trip.
The family of Feilding soldier Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, lined up to meet the couple.
Several family members were holding handmade stuffed monkeys in memory of Lt O'Donnell, who carried one - named Lt Rua Kiwi - with him everywhere in Afghanistan, apart from the day he was killed.
His sister Anna, wearing miniatures of her brother's medals, said she made the stuffed toy for her brother's 28th birthday, while the others were made in memory of him.
"Lt Rua Kiwi went back to Afghanistan to finish Tim's mission for him. He was his representative."
The couple appeared reluctant to leave Feilding town's centre and spent the last few moments before being whisked away shaking a few more hands and talking to residents.