Monday, November 13, 2017

Royal Visit of TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall

TRH The Prince of Wales & Duchess of Cornwall.
I'm fifth from right behind the barricades.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a royalist and I have been since I was a very small boy. As an author, I like to feature royals in my stories such as The Littlest Emperor, A Day with the Duchess, and A Royal Adventure, and I've got even more stories about princes and princesses that haven't even been published yet, such as The Great Big Spooky Forest, The Magical Red Prince, and Princess Penelope Primrose. And now, after the recent royal visit,  I'm inspired to write another royal story.

In early October it was announced that TRH would be visiting Singapore as part of the SE Asian Tour. Yes, I started planning where I would try to meet them. When I was a small boy, my late Uncle Philip had the opportunity to play Polo with the Prince here in Singapore and the whole family was invited to watch. 

At the end of the match, I was within feet of the Prince, 
and I had two burning questions that I was dying to ask:1) Who picked up his polo pony's poo? and 2.) What was it like to fall off the said pony? Knowing what 
was on the tip of my tongue, my mother held me back, but my big sister and older cousin were allowed to meet him! What the...? I know, right...? Totally unfair!

I was just as unlucky when it came to meeting the Duchess. A couple of years ago, I wrote to HRH and sent her a couple of my children's books for her grandchildren. I was down in the dumps about my writing career and I knew she was an advocate for children's literacy and I wrote saying I admired her efforts promoting literacy and that I knew that the Prince had written a children's book that I, unfortunately, had never read.

A few weeks later, a large package arrived via registered royal post. I ripped open the envelope and The Old Man of Lochnagar dropped out along with a small white envelope. The Duchess had personally written back, thanking me for my books and enclosing The Old Man of Lochnagar because I had never been able to get a copy for myself. It's needless to I was thrilled speechless. It was incredibly kind of her and just goes to show how very thoughtful she is.

The book and letter I received from the Duchess.
I have photoshopped out the letter's content
as it's private and confidential.
A couple of months later, I attended the London Book Fair and I found out that HRH was scheduled to make an official visit to the fair. But sadly I missed seeing her. I was at wrong place at the wrong time.

I did not see or meet HRH at the 2014 London Book Fair. But these
lucky ladies did.
I wrote the Duchess another letter and once again she personally replied! So when I found out that TRH's were coming to town, I was determined to meet them. My publisher contacted the British Council to see if it would be possible to present TRH with my Books, and the Council agreed, but they would present the books to the Royal Couple themselves. Dash! No, invite to the High Commission to meet them!

Thankfully it was announced that The Prince and The Duchess would be paying their respects at the Cenotaph.  The High Commission did not announce when they would be there for security purposes, so I had to make an educated guess as to when they would be there. Fortunately, by the time I arrived at the Cenotaph, there was a small crowd, waiting for the Prince and Duchess to arrive. I, luckily, managed to find a prime spot at the front of the barricades.

Spectators holding up their cell phones in anticipation of the royal arrival were firmly advised not to ask the couple for selfies. I brought along two cameras with me just in case one of them malfunctioned.  

Then as noon approached, the Royal motorcade pulled up. Cell phones shot up into the air, as the Prince and The Duchess stepped out and were greeted by officials before they took their places for the ceremony. 

I might be mistaken about the order of events, but I think the 
Prince laid the wreath, and there was a moment of silence before the couple was ushered to a receiving line of armed services personnel. As they slowly made their way down the line, I alternated shooting on both cameras until one of the cameras malfunctioned!

I was not expecting the couple to do a walkabout and was pleasantly surprised when they came over to the barricades. The royal couple joked with the school children who, in all probably had skipped class, to meet them, and TRH also took their time chatting with the rest of us there. 

I shook hands with the Duchess and reminded her that she sent me a copy of The Old Man of Lochnagar. She told me she still reads my books to her grandkids! It was such an OMG: Oh my Gosh moment for me! I told her that I really enjoyed The Old Man of Lochnagar and she motioned towards the Prince, asking me to tell him.

I was going to tell the Prince how much I enjoyed it but, instead, I blurted out how he had once played polo with my late Uncle Philip and how disappointed I was that I hadn't been allowed to meet him. He shook my hand and smiled: "You didn't miss a thing!" LOL.

It was a pleasure and an honor to finally have met the Prince and The Duchess.  They are warm, incredibly down-to-earth, and self-deprecating. Their Royal Highnesses do not get the credit that they deserve, but perhaps that will all change.  Judging by the reaction of the people who turned up at their engagements, I'm betting that it will.

I  was hoping to meet them again at their visit to the Orchid Garden, but something cropped up and I was unable to do so. I do hope that they did get the books that the British Council promised to present to them. I might just write to HRH to ask if she did, but I don't want to be a bother, especially since she probably gets a ton of correspondence. 

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