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British Royal Family

Prince William and Kate Middleton's lesson from Princess Diana

William and Kate took a leaf out of Princess Diana's book today, finally getting up close and personal with some of their subject in Winmalee.

I mention Diana because almost everyone I have spoken to in the crowds over the past two days over the age of 30, talks about her.
The older ones turned out for her visits to Australia, some saw William as a baby, and what is most telling is how very many had an up close and personal encounter with Princess Diana that they recall in every detail. From a hug, to a handshake, a kind word, a gentle smile, Diana left her footprint.
Princess Diana greeting the crowds at the Opera House in 1983.
And yesterday at the Sydney Opera House I was a little disappointed to see that the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William weren’t also leaving their footprint heading into the crowds and connecting with their public.
To be fair they were shaking hands and engaging, but with only a tiny handful of the thousands who had waited hours to see them many scoring front row positions carrying babies and young children but leaving - happy to have seen them - but disappointed not to have had that little bit more, that something special to cherish.
Today in the Blue Mountains I was with the girl guides at their hall in Winmalee. This was the community that just six months ago was devastated by bushfires ripping through their homes.
Juliet Rieden awaiting the royal couple's arrival in Winmalee this morning.
The royal entourage drew up through the gates flanked with locals all dressed up to meet royalty and alas, left them waiting and hoping that the couple would come back.
We saw the duo for a few minutes, that was all. A chosen 140 had a closer encounter inside the hall where they ate finger sandwiches and mini muffins and drank tea while the royal couple met as many as they could. But again it felt to me as if this wasn’t enough. The sun was blazing down, these people had been there for hours.
Then the Duke and Duchess reappeared and went to plant a tree – the ubiquitous photo opportunity – and meet the girl guides aged 4-17.
At last the couple seemed to be softening. William was cracking jokes and Catherine gathering bunches of flowers from tiny tots.
One of the leaders asked if they might have a picture taken and in a moment of genius that made me immediately think of his mother Diana’s unique connection with the public, the Duke suggested he and his wife stand amongst the girls and together the couple launched into the troupe for a rather wonderful photo.
The couple looked happy, the kids were delighted and behind them watching on, snapping photos, their parents were ecstatic. Now that’s more like it … This royal tour is really shifting gear.

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