So here I am, intrepid roving royal reporter, reporting on my intrepid day spent waiting to see a green coat and a tall man with an, err, receding hairline. Given the hours I waited, and the end result, it could have been a massive anti-climax and yet, it wasn’t. Such is the magic of royalty.
I walked into town around 9.30am and people were walking across the bridge and milling around the main street. First stop was the post office to post a bottle of wine to a friend overseas. He was lucky I posted it first otherwise I might have been tempted to open it later in the day. I met our lovely MP, Louise Upston, in the Post Office. She was all dolled up and on her way out to the Velodrome to watch the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge open the brand new facility later in the day.
Then I wandered up to Wrights bookshop, my home away from home in Cambridge. Annette and Maree were resplendent in their crown and tiara and they were folding Union Jack flags for people to take out to the barricade and wave. So I accepted one of those and went on my way…across Victoria Street and up to Victoria Park. I met my niece and my great-nieces there who were having a yummy picnic under the trees with some other children. Crowns were the head gear of the day.
On up the street and into St Andrews, my church. I had a wee sit down and a chat to the Verger, Ian, who was on duty while the church was open. It was all decorated for Palm Sunday tomorrow. At about 11.30 I made my way back to Victoria Park and found a place on the edge of a seat at one of the BBQ tables. It almost immediately transpired that if we stood up on the seats we had a really good view over the road to where the Duke and Duchess would ‘alight’ and go into the Town Hall. Stroke of luck! Somewhere to sit and rest my weary feet and, in time, a good viewing possie.
Over the next hour I made friends with my fellow ‘table waiters’ (in the sense that we were all sitting at the table and we were all waiting) and people watching was the order of the day. Little girls in gorgeous white frocks, little boys in tartan suits with matching waistcoats and berets, women draped in flags and lots and lots and lots of flags, crowns and tiaras.
The man and woman on the loudspeaker told us the town was ‘now in lockdown’ and the Duke and Duchess were 30 minutes, 20 minutes, 15 minutes, then a Veeeeeeeeeeeeeeery long five minutes away. And all of a sudden there they were. A convoy of policemen on motorcycles and in police cars, two plain grey cars and the second one was flying a small royal standard.
The convoy drove around the square and down to the roundabout at the bottom of Victoria Street and then up the main street to stop beside the mare and foal statue outside the newly painted Town Hall. I could see a bright green coat, long brown hair, long legs and black shoes. And a tall young man in a suit. Everyone around us went nuts. They walked to the Town Hall and went inside for a short lunch. We stood on our table and speculated on many things, such as what was in the sandwiches and who fed all the policeman and photographers.
Then they came out and laid a wreath at the war memorial. Our view of that was obstructed by some very old and large trees. They met some old age pensioners who had sat for hours under a marquee beside the Town Hall. Then they came across the street and worked the crowd, lost in a sea of photographers and (presumably) attendants and policemen. But we could hear how much the crowd were loving it. A few moments later they got back into the car and the convoy was on the move.
I had climbed down off the table and gone to the roadside on the Alpha Street side of Victoria Square, preparing for the moment the barricades would be opened and we would be allowed to cross to Victoria Street to walk home. What I didn’t realise was the convoy would come that way. Having taken several useless, fuzzy photos with my phone camera of tiny people in the distance…here I was standing right by the roadside when the car swung round the roundabout and the window was down. There she was, sitting up by the window and waving. We waved back but the photographic moment was gone. She was smiling from ear to ear and she is beautiful.
I walked home and all around me were excited people, children and adults, all buzzing with happiness and adrenaline. It was a lovely day for Cambridge, it put us on the national, and the international, map for an hour. Our quaint, English style, warm and welcoming town and I felt proud to live here. Apparently the Cambridge Cricket Club, who play on Victoria Square, has a new patron. I wonder who? Bright move, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
If you watch the news tonight you will see the Cambridges in Cambridge, you won’t see me, but I saw them.