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1981 or 1986: Elizabeth II visits New Zealand - Glimpses of You

Gretchen posting in Glimpses of you
User: glimpsesofyou (posted by curvature)
Date: 2008-03-07 13:55
Subject: 1981 or 1986: Elizabeth II visits New Zealand
Security: Public
Tags:1981, 1986, childhood, eighties, occasions
When I was little, my only perception of royalty was gleaned from the books I read. I knew all about princesses with flowing golden hair, golden crowns with sparkly gems all over them, huge castles and valiant knights.

One day (I don't know if it was her 1981 or 86 visit*) we were told that the Queen was coming to visit, and we had to get ready. They gave us all little Union Jack flags, and we spent hours learning 'God Save the Queen'.

It was terribly exciting for everyone to think that we might see the Queen in real life, and we wondered what she'd be like. We had seen her portrait of course; it's on our money and there are paintings of her around the place, but it's not the same as the real thing.

We all imagined that she'd be a beautiful young womain with creamy skin and ebony hair (more or less like Snow White), seated in a beautiful carriage with white horses, shining and resplendant in rich velvet robes with fur trim, and a huge gold crown with diamonds all over it. You should have seen the pictures we came up with in our art classes leading up to the event :)

When the day finally arrived, they took us all by bus to the racecourse, where thousands of other noisy children also waited, and we stood in the hot sun for an eternity, wearing our best, most uncomfortable clothes and trying to remember the words to the song.

Eventually the loudspeakers crackled on so that we could hear the band, and everyone sang God Save the Queen as her procession came onto the track. It was horrible - most children cannot sing in tune/time anyway, and the song just isn't suited to whispy little voices.

We stood on tippy-toes to get a good look, craning our necks and peering over the heads of the children in front of us, only to find a tiny middle-aged (ie ancient) lady with greying hair and a very ordinary dress and hat, sitting in the back of a car with some old guy. We felt terribly cheated. She didn't even have a crown on!

They drove once around the track so everyone could see them, and then she shook hands with a few people who were lucky enough to be crushed up against the barriers. Our school was way up the back somewhere so we didn't really even get a good look at her.

Then we had to stand still for what seemed like an eternity (I don't even remember if there were speeches - I suppose there must have been), before we were finally allowed to leave.

After that stories about Queens and Kings were a bit less exciting for me.

* I can't find enough information about either visit to match it up with my memories. I'm sure I was younger than 10 when this happened which would mean 81, but the only mention I can find of school children is from the 86 visit..
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