When you hear two helicopters circling overhead and see a long motorcade going past your flat on a Saturday morning, it’s a pretty good clue that Something’s Up. My friend, Joey – Chinese, ex-flatmate, surely you remember him? – thought as much when he drove down Manning Road later that week and saw people lined up opposite Clontarf College. This wasn’t because he’s a safe driver insured by AAMI (watch the commercial). No…Perth was having a Royal Visitor. Joey and I were going to welcome her.
I’ve had a number of misses with the Royal Family. There was the time Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited our church in Bahrain. We decided not to go. There was the time I visited London – but I felt Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre was far more interesting than a visit to the Palace. Will it be third time lucky? I mention all this to Joey, who finds it very funny. I text my Aussie friend Robyn to let her know I’m waiting on Manning to see the Queen. She thinks I’m funny. “So colonial”, she replies. The lady beside me, sporting a New Zealand t-shirt, finds this hilarious.
The road is lined with Australian police officers. Some people bring the kids along. Others have brought their dogs. A news van parked on one side of the road. A man in a walker parked on the other. It all seems like a bit of a picnic. Then suddenly there are helicopters and motorbikes. The Queen whisks past us. The lady next to me with the Complicated Camera is quite annoyed. “They should go slower so we can take pictures,” she says angrily. Oh dear, we are not amused. Suddenly, I feel quite sorry for the royals – after all, they’re people too. Besides, what about security?
After a few photo opportunities, in which I look sadly windblown and Joey effortlessly looks cheerful, we decide to return half an hour later for the grand departure. I’m confident that I will get a photograph of the Royal Vehicle this time round. This is almost a disastrous decision as we nearly get lost and almost miss the motorcade. We’ve just reached the road, when the cars start leaving. Joey waves frantically – arms high in the air, this is serious stuff. Good idea. I wave as well. A white haired figure inside the car tilts her head and waves back with a smile.
“She waved at me!” says Joey. “I don’t know why I’m happy she waved at me – I’m Chinese!”
“She waved at you,” says an Australian man standing some way behind us.
I don’t have a photograph, but I’m awed and touched. Because, don’t you know, she really didn’t have to, but she also waved at ME.