Prince Harry's former matron seeks reunion

Vicki McBratney worked as a matron for Prince Harry when he attended Ludgrove School
David Walker

Vicki McBratney worked as a matron for Prince Harry when he attended Ludgrove School

"Henry Charles Albert David."

Vicki McBratney rattles the name off the top of her head without a second thought. To her, he is the cheeky, lovable 12-year-old boy she grew close to over 12 months, bonding over hot chocolate and mourning the passing of their mothers. 

To the rest of the world, he is Prince Harry of Wales.

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In 1997, McBratney, then 25, had just taken up a new job as an assistant matron at the prestigious Ludgrove School, in Wokingham, England.

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Her first day on the job was Princess Diana's funeral. 

"The headmaster said Harry won't be back until Wednesday because of the funeral, and I was saying 'Harry, who's Harry?'"

Upon his return, McBratney was quick to ensure the young royal knew "I was there for him", as her own mother had died the year before.

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The rest was history.

"Every couple of weeks he'd come and knock on my door and we'd both go to the matron's lounge and I'd make him a Milo or a hot chocolate and we'd sit and talk and he'd share letters from his Mum."

From waking Harry up in the morning, laying out his clothes for the day, getting him up for breakfast, making sure he was tucked up in bed at night, to supporting him at sports games, McBratney did it all.

"From counsellor to nanny - I was like [his mother]."

Harry's mutual fondness for McBratney was clear when he persuaded his big brother, Prince William, to track down her favourite Hollywood star at a premiere.

"The Man in the Iron Mask had just come out[...] I asked if he was going to the premiere and he said no, but Will was going," she said.

"Harry came back the week after and said "Mam, mam, look!" and showed me a programme signed "To Vicki, all the best! Leonardo DiCaprio."

Despite the police officer inside at all times, and the outdoor guardhouse, Harry was just "one of the boys" at Ludgrove, McBratney said.

She recalled a game among the boys known as the "royal flush" where the other boys would pretend to flush Harry's head in the toilet each night.

At the same time, McBratney was growing close to another male at Ludgrove. Her now husband, Andy was a dining room assistant at the school.

"He used to tease me and Andy for flirting. He always said we would be boyfriend and girlfriend."

Little does Harry know, Andy and Vicki did end up boyfriend and girlfriend. They also ended up married and moved back to Christchurch in 1999 to settle and start a family.

The last time McBratney saw Harry it was the last day of school. He handed her a bottle of wine and a box of chocolate from Highgrove House, gave her a hug and a kiss and told her he would "really miss me".

Now, 16 years later - McBratney wants to be reunited.

The couple have taken the day off work on Tuesday to stake out a spot in Cashel St with old photos, just hoping Harry will recognise them. 

"I hope [he remembers me]. He would've met a lot of people since then of course," McBratney said.

"But he was my boy."

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 - Stuff

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