The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are in south Wales, braving near-monsoon conditions to visit Llandaff Cathedral, Ebbw Vale and Margam Park. I did get excited when I heard about Margam and briefly considered taking the kids out of school for a day to pop along, not because I’m a royalist but because I’d love to see Prince Philip having a ride on Monty the train. But I don’t envy HRH’s ‘people’, dashing about behind the scenes making sure everything runs smoothly. I was involved in a Royal visit last year, when Charles and Camilla spent the day in Powys. The photos are fantastic; the sun is smiling, smartly ironed children are waving cute flags and The Duchess is all petite charm. Oh how different it was in the press room.
First, there was the photographer, a freelance who Didn’t Bring his Passport. This was Not Allowed when there were police officers in every hedge and you had to supply your grandmother’s national insurance number to enter the building. He hadn’t read the photography brief either, but he was at least hearty in his approach to the sandwiches. There were also technical malfunctions. This being deepest rural Wales, internet connection was intermittent to say the least, leading to something of a delay on our, ahem, ‘instant’ Tweets and updates.
Then there was the branding. One photo shows a very happy Royal couple and other important bods standing by a pretty fishpond against strategically placed pop-up banners. Had the shutter clicked a few seconds earlier, the pic would have shown a very happy Royal couple with my colleague fishing said pop-up out of said pond behind their backs. But at least the branding made it into the shot. As Charles and Camilla were about to make their entrance, the same pop-up fishing colleague realised that the expensively commissioned and very shiny celebratory plaque was not in place in order to be unveiled. Cue colleague dashing through the building with plaque a few seconds ahead of HRHs and concealing it behind a swishy velvet curtain just in time.
Stress aside, it was a fantastic event. The Prince was funny, warm and genuinely interested in the people he met. The press coverage was great and the pop-up eventually dried off. But gosh, was I hungry. Whilst all the excitement was going on outside, someone sneaked into the press room and ate all the sandwiches.