I’ve met five members of the British Royal Family.
What?! How? When? WHAT!?
I spent some serious years working in Public Sector Communications doing serious work for the government, and it just so happened that the Department I worked for was in charge of official state visits.
So once in a blue (blood) moon,
I gotta say right off the bat. This isn’t going to be some salacious tell-all.
Mainly because there isn’t anything salacious to tell.
But also. Code of Conduct. Professionalism. Ethics. That sort of jazz.
Everything in here is already public information. Or are random (ridiculous) stories from my life outside of work.
The Royal Whānau
New Zealand is part of the Commonwealth, which means the Queen of the United Kingdom is also the Queen of New Zealand, making the Royal Family our Royal Whānau.
And the Royals do what normal family do.
They come to visit.
It’s kinda like when your Aunty Ang comes to stay, except she doesn’t sleep on the pull-out couch, because she’s actually Angelina Jolie.
Social Media Reporter, reporting for duty
My first Royal Visit was in 2014 with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George.
It was also the first time the New Zealand Government (and in fact, I think any Commonwealth country) had a “Social Media Reporter” creating an online version of the visit that people could follow through their smartphones.
And that was me.
(Constantly ruining shots).
Braggy Fun fact: Your ol’ mate Kate created the hashtag #RoyalVisitNZ.
My job involved a lot of quick-fire phone photography and social posting so people could follow the #RoyalVisitNZ feed in real-time.
I can’t even tell you how fun it was.
I also got to see an insane amount of my own country, which, ps. is beautiful.
Here are some of my favourite photos that I took back on my trusty iPhone 5 during the 2014 visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George.
(Warning: I really loved a hard edit back in 2014. The filter use is. Next. Lev).
All photos are taken from the @GovGeneralNZ account on Instagram – which I administered over the course of the visit.
Their Royal Highnesses (TRHs) arriving at the Wellington Military Terminal.
Can we make a moment for Catherine though: she’s wearing a floaty dress in Wellington winds, with her hair down, holding her kid, while walking down aeroplane stairs in front of the world’s press.
If that was me I’d have created an international incident before I’d touched New Zealand soil.
I would have basically been Paris Hilton every time she got out of a car in the Noughties.
The Mecca of New Zealand tourism, Queenstown is stunning.
Serving some serious cute in Blenheim
This lovely veteran showed the Duchess a photo of him from the war, and it was mad cute.
(Also, praise the person not just their clothes, but this was my favourite lewk of the visit).
But of course
Ayyyyy! Who dat. Even though I forgot to curtsy and said absolutely nothing intelligent, meeting TRHs was
My tiny blonde friend there, Claire, did Media Management on the visit. As you can see, neither of us were at all taken by the Royal Couple … *face nearly splits from smiling so hard*
We also had a big team photo with TRHs after this, including Prince George, who I said hi too.
The whole experience was the best, in every way.
Not least of which because everywhere we went there were hundreds and thousands of people being made so incredibly happy.
All. Of. The. Feels.
The changing of the guard
As luck would have it, I was in England in 2015 while Prince Harry first visited New Zealand (one of my chums/Comms colleagues covered that visit).
While we were in the Motherland (I am actually half English), we swung by Buckingham Palace, because #tourists, and as we were waiting to leave after the changing of the guard, I saw a motorcade coming.
We’d been told the PM (who had been voted in the day before) was coming to see the Queen, so we were vaguely jazzed that we were going to see David Cameron.
But it was not Dave-o.
It was Her Maj, herself.
We accidentally saw the actual Queen!
It was a wonderful, ridiculous day.
Later that year, it was announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, Charles and Camilla, were coming to town – and I would be reprising my role as Kate the Social Media Reporter!
My fave photos that I took on that trip:
Prepare yourselves for an iPhone quality upgrade (I was running with a 6 at this point), and a far subtler approach to photo editing.
There was an unfortunate run-in with a bee on the Duke’s pants, and both Their Royal Highnesses got the giggles.
Laughing photos are the best photos.
The Duke and Duchess visited the home of the Māori Kīngitanga in Ngāruwahia, and it was full DRAMA, in the best possible way.
From the full spectacle of the welcome, to the waiata/songs, kai/food, armada of waka/boats (which TRHs are just climbing aboard the barge in the photo above to see), and farewell haka – it made me proud to be a Kiwi.
Harry and Meghan
As you can imagine. I was definitely down to try and see the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Harry and Meghan) on their visit to New Zealand last month.
In fact, it was the perfect #9 addition to my Thirty Before Thirty bucket list.
I live in Wellington, so went to the public walkabout at Pukeahu National War Memorial with my son (I figured babies always go down well with Royals) and mother-in-law.
We were two hours early, and got a great spot by the entrance.
Or so we thought.
We actually parked ourselves directly inline with where the delegation van would be parked.
So when the Royal Couple arrived the only view we had was of was VIP Transport.
I also hadn’t factored in the screaming …
Like a total mum scrub, I hadn’t stopped to think that thousands of excited Royalists/Suits fans might be a nightmare-level scenario for my 11-month-old.
He was. Hysterical.
I couldn’t escape through the barricade because I’d look like a crazed fan, and I was barricaded from the back by throngs of Royal watchers. The panicked parent sweats were r e a l.
But, like a glimmer of hope in the chaos, I could see a scheduled meet and greet unfolding in front of me.
There was a guide dog involved, and photographers were getting lined up for the shot.
So amongst the horror show of this experience, at least, I thought, I’d get to see them.
The guide dog got moved up, a woman close by basically mounted me as she filmed on her phone, and as I stretched out my neck – my baby still losing his mind – to try and catch a solitary glimpse, the Duchess turned her head.
And I saw a very chic bun.
And that is all.
This is the photo my mum-in-law took.
Proof that you can be this close to someone, and yet still not actually see them.
It was all so comedically bad.
The absolute, wonderful irony that the one time I tried to see a member of the Royal Family – this happened.
But it also made me reflect on how stupidly blessed I’ve been to have tagged along on two Royal visits (and stumbled upon seeing the Queen!). And for that, I am so very thankful.
I’d like to dedicate this post to my boss and friend, Allen Walley.
Allen was the Media Manager for the 2014 visit, and the one who recommended and encouraged me to be the official social media reporter.
He was also famously a Republican. (Hilarious). Although, as you’ll see in the photo below, still got a little star struck.
We look like three grinning hyenas
In many ways I owe this experience to him, and for that, I will always be grateful.
Allen was diagnosed with cancer in the planning stages of the Prince Harry visit in 2015, and passed away a year and a half ago.
Cancer is crap. But the Royal adventures we had most certainly were not. Thanks for everything, my friend.