Necks crane over a sea of cellphones

19:16, Apr 14 2014
royals christchurch
WORN OUT: Juliet Ensor, 4, waited with mum Prue and brother Guy, 2, for a too-fleeting glimpse of the Duchess of Cambridge at the RNZAF Air Movements Terminal yesterday.

Juliet was frowning. She wore a pink hat, a pink jacket and pink boots. She carried a pink bouquet. Her cheeks were pink. But she was not happy.

She had been on Orchard Rd since 9am hoping to see a princess. She was hoping the princess, too, was wearing pink. But it was cold and she was getting impatient. She was 4.

"Where is the princess?" she asked.

"She will be here soon," said her mother, Prue.

They had come from Rakaia Gorge the previous day to spend the night in Christchurch so they could head out to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in the morning to see the animals.

Juliet's friends were going to Latimer Square. The royals were a detour.

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About 10.30am, camera phones were raised.

Police motorcycles came out the gate first. Then a BMW rolled out and a hand waved from inside and people screamed at them.

"Their teeth are so white," someone said.

"Did you see the princess?" someone asked Juliet.

Juliet frowned. Prue made a subtle gesture.

"It's a touchy subject," Prue said.

* * *

The two women on the corner of Gloucester and Manchester streets waited for the lights to change. A BMW rolled past. Then a white van. Inside was a princess.

"You just missed her," someone told them.

"What? You're joking," one of the women asked.

"Kate Middleton! You just missed her."

"Oh, I'm so sorry."

The two women apologetically continued to Latimer Sq. There were children in Union Jack pants. People with silly hats had climbed ladders. Little girls wore tiaras and bins overflowed with disposable coffee cups.

The crowd waited patiently. It was cold and grey and quite miserable. It was very British.

Occasionally people would stand on their tip-toes to look over the heads of those in front. They saw nothing.

A man in 19th century British military regalia wandered through the throng. He looked lost. Police eyed him closely.

"Colonel" Barry Lynch was part of an "army" of "harmless loonies" that were bent on world domination through a non-violent means.

"Through humour," he said. "But people don't seem to be catching on very fast."

The royals made their way down Madras St and towards Latimer Sq. More people stood on their tip-toes and cheered as the duke and duchess became visible.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee smiled.

"He is probably confused," someone said. "The first time anyone has ever cheered for him."

Soon the crowd drew in - each person thrusting digital camera phones into the sky, pointing somewhere and recording and hoping that when they got home and looked at the footage, there would be something resembling a royal.

Margje Holmsen was at the edge of the railing with her daughter, 7-year-old Sophie.

A member of the royal staff gestured towards her and Margje helped Sophie over the railing. She was picked to greet the duchess.

Sophie was dressed immaculately in pink dress with black swirly inlay, with a pink and white hooded jumper. She wore her hair down.

The princess wore something red.

* * *

"I can see the Queen," a boy said.

"I can see the King," a girl said. "The future king," she corrected.

"He is quite tall," another said. "I wish I was taller," they lamented.

"Kate! Kate! Yoo hoo," yelled Leanne McDonald. "Look over here."

Kate did not. But it did not matter.

"My husband and I have always followed them," McDonald said.

"We are just mad for them."

The Press