Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Royal Inspiration

Some people may wonder why a Singapore-based author is writing children's books about the royals. I'm a royalist since my paternal grandmother was English and both my grandfathers and my  parents were educated in the United Kingdom. Royals have always fascinated me as I have always thought they stood for something noble, something good and that has inspired me to write about them/

My first book featuring royal a character was about a fictitious child emperor in The Littlest Emperor. But let me take you back to the beginning  to my very first encounter with an actual royal personage.

I was about 7 years old and I accompanied his parents to watch my Uncle Philip play polo with the Prince of Wales in Singapore. My parents wisely prevented me from speaking to the Prince because all I wanted to ask was what it felt like to fall off a polo pony. 

I had my first glimpse of Princess Diana in 1981 right before she married the Prince of Wales.  I stood outside the gates of Buckingham Palace as she sped off to watch the ladies' finals at Wimbledon. 

It would be eight long years before I was to see her again.  But came within hand-shaking distance of  her twice when the royal couple paid an official visit to Hong Kong in 1989. As you can tell from way back then I did not have what it takes to be a royal press photographer and I still don't.

Princess Diana in Hong Kong 89 ©David Seow

 I finally had a chance to exchange a few words with the Princess in 1992 while I was on a college summer program with the University of Portland. Some of my classmates and I brought my visually impaired friend, Shannon, to meet the Princess of Wales at the Royal Opera House.  

Princess Diana @ The Royal Opera House. ©David Seow
We were so thrilled to have met her that we accidentally left Shannon behind in the tube station. After a few panicked minutes, I would say about ten, we found her in the lift, trying to find her way out of it!  To say she was not amused wouldn't be untrue.

Princess Diana shakes my hand. (I found this photo on the internet 23 years after
meeting her)

The next time I met the Princess was when she was attending a luncheon. By the time she departed, the flowers I brought for her were already wilting, yet she walked across the street to meet me. I was so nervous that I curtsied as she took my hand and that elicited a giggle from the Princess.

©David Seow

A policeman later told me: “She’s not likely to forget you. No bloke has ever curtsied to the Princess.” Not wanting to end his summer program on such an awkward note, I accompanied my classmates to the Princess’s next public event at BAFTA at Piccadilly Circus.

©David Seow

Sure enough when the Princess emerged, I started babbling like an incoherent baboon. Something along the cringe-worthy lines of  “You’re so beautiful. I love you!” OK, I warned you it would be cringe-worthy.

" I remember you." ©StacyMartzall

She lowered her head (I was shorter than she was in heels) and gazed at me with those cornflower blue eyes and smiled. I remember you. You’re so sweet. You gave me flowers last Tuesday.” Took the flowers from my hands and continued to smile sweetly as I stood there with my mouth agape until she departed several minutes later. Now, she didn’t have to say she remembered me but that was the kind of person she was.

But it was to be another two decades before I even thought about writing about members of the Royal Family.

To be continued....

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