It was a bright February day, when I was unceremoniously plucked out of Paparoa St school, dressed in my Sunday best and bustled out to Lincoln for my first brush with royalty. It was 1977. I was 5. In classic stage-mother fashion, my 7 year old sister, Lisa, and I were shoved through the throngs of thickly-perfumed and coiffed country toffs packing out the parade route, to reach the walkabout’s royal blue rope-line. And suddenly – there she was. “Hello Queen!” I excitedly exclaimed. My bumptiousness was rewarded with a warm handshake and 5 second personal audience. My sister had to make do with a hand-shake from Prime Minister Muldoon. In a slight social faux pas, she inadvertently addressed him as Mr Rowling. Fast forward 37 years, and although the fervour of a royal tour may have dimmed with time, the incredible Cambridges have certainly revitalised the brand for a new century, unleashing a mini Royal renaissance. Just wait until Monday, when the Royals rock Christchurch. Latimer Square will be swamped with tens of thousands of admirers, rubber-neckers and stage-mothers. In December, New Zealand Republic churlishly announced they would be targeting the April tour and intensifying their campaign for change. Thankfully, this pressure group has jettisoned such plans, which would have been as hapless as railing against chocolate at Easter time. Interestingly, the only demograph in the republic movement-commissioned opinion poll that wants change are under 30 year olds. The demograph that not only places a premium on idealism but is also the least likely to make their vote count. Paradoxically, they’re also besotted by William and Kate. Latimer Square will be selfie city on Monday. So, how does the republic movement gain traction, beyond being just a plaything for the idled liberal elite? The old adage, “ If it’s not broke…” is a formidable bulwark, for starters. Our constitutional monarchy has proven to be a faithfully stable, hands-off arrangement, paying homage to the very foundation of this nation. Is it really a bad thing for the bonds of heritage to endure? The Queen may be our titular Head of State, but the world rightly views New Zealand’s paramount flag-bearer as the Prime Minister. The Governor-General represents the Queen. But the Prime Minister represents the nation. Cantabrians deeply cherished Prince William’s gracious attendance at our Earthquake Memorial Service on March 18, 2011. Representing his grandmother and reading out her famous quote, “Grief is the price we pay for love”, gave the occasion real stature. If I were a betting man, Charles and William will both become future Kings of New Zealand.
Mike Yardley’s current affairs column in The Press. First published on April 8.
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