Royals reign, rain or shine

04:31, Apr 08 2014
Thelma Sowman
Royal we: Meeting the royal couple with be a mixture of etiquette and informal chat. Mayoress Thelma Sowman and Mayor Alistair Sowman look over Seymour Square which will play host to the royals during a wreath-laying ceremony on Thursday

Contingency plans have been made in case wet weather dampens the royal visit, the mayor has said.

Meteorologist Daniel Corbett is predicting wet weather across northern parts of the South island on Thursday, but Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said every eventuality had been planned for the royal visit.

He said the wreath-laying ceremony at Blenheim's Seymour Square could potentially be moved to Marlborough Convention Centre. However, it would be the decision of the Department of Internal Affairs.

"If it is pelting with rain that can create a bit of chaos," Sowman said. "We know we could potentially move to Marlborough Convention Centre as a plan B. The weather forecast doesn't look that bad. We have purchased a number of clear umbrellas that we will need to use in the event it rains."

A practice run will be held tomorrow to ensure the smooth running of the ceremony.

It is predicted there will be a lot of well-wishers despite the forecast bad weather.


Veterans from Nelson RSA are expected and it some hardened royal-watchers will likely follow the couple from the North Island.

Sowman said he was feeling a mixture of emotions.

"I am pretty excited but nervous that everything will go right on the day."

A lot had gone into the planning of the event, not least brushing up on royal etiquette.

"We shake their hand and greet them as their royal highness in the first instance and sir or ma'am after that. I am pretty well versed with that."

The mayor and mayoress will introduce Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge separately to 20 ex-servicemen chosen by Marlborough RSA.

"I have been given a list of names. Hopefully they will be wearing name tags in case I have a memory lapse. I am fortunate to know most of them. Thelma hasn't met them before and has had to commit their names to memory."

His royal chit chat was not something that Sowman had planned.

"If I make conversation it has been suggested the things I shouldn't say, more than what I should say. I might talk about the All Blacks."

The mayor hoped there will be no awkward silences with talk about Blenheim, the clocktower and its history, being his fallback.

Finding something appropriate to wear for the couple was the task of his wife Thelma.

She said she had purchased a new navy dress for the occasion and had sent her pearls to the jewellers to be spruced up.

"I had looked at pictures of other similar occasions for inspiration. I don't have to wear a hat, you don't know how good that feels. Alistair has a new shirt and tie and suit. If I was getting a new outfit, so was he."

Prince William and Catherine will be the most famous people the mayoress had met but being well versed in council events she said was treating it like any other function.

"I am quite excited. It will be a very surreal experience. The focus will be on the duke and duchess. As long as I don't fall over I will be OK.

"I am going to curtsy. I don't have to but I am a royalist and when will I ever have another opportunity to curtsy?

"Talking with them is not something I can rehearse. They may lead the conversation. I think I will wing it. There is always George and the weather to talk about."

The Marlborough Express