OPINION: Feelings towards the royal family vary widely, but it is beyond dispute that the announcement that Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will be visiting Feilding during their tour of New Zealand is a coup for the Manawatu town.
Feilding's troubles during the past couple of years have been well chronicled, and it would be difficult to find a small town anywhere in New Zealand that is more deserving of something as novel and exciting as a visit by the future king and his wife.
Whether you're a staunch monarchist, or think the royal family is completely irrelevant to modern New Zealand, Charles and Camilla are one of the most famous couples in the world and it's not every day people of their celebrity wander around the Feilding Farmers' Market. He will almost certainly become New Zealand's head of state, with his face on our currency and his crown on our coat of arms.
If nothing else, the visit by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will give Feilding a chance to put its best foot forward. It's a fantastic town with a strong, vibrant community and they'll be seeing rural New Zealand at its very best.
The Manawatu District Council and Feilding Promotion deserve huge kudos for working behind the scenes to help make the royal visit happen. The two organisations don't always see eye-to-eye, but their co-operation in this cause goes a long way to explain why Feilding has blossomed into a thriving, dynamic town.
It's easy to be cynical about the impending visit, and some people the Manawatu Standard spoke to on the streets of Feilding this week were certainly that. That's fine, it's not everyone's cup of tea.
But as a region we should embrace the occasion as an overwhelmingly positive event that can only benefit Manawatu. International attention follows the royal couple wherever they go, and the media coverage Feilding and surrounding districts will receive is publicity no amount of money can buy.
We often complain about how poorly Manawatu is perceived by outsiders; it's with rare occasions like these that we have an opportunity to show people what the region is all about, and why this is such a special place to live. It would be foolish to turn our nose up it and pretend it's no big deal.
The next in line to the throne is coming here, it's a big deal, so let's get excited and make the most of it.
One more thing: Speaking of excitement, Ranfurly Shield fever is about to hit Manawatu, with the Turbos challenging Taranaki for the Log o' Wood on September 29. We might be underdogs, but that hasn't stopped us winning big games in the past.
- © Fairfax NZ News