Prince Harry Visits Stewart Island
You would have had to have been in an absolutely media free zone to have missed the visit of Captain Harry Wales to Stewart Island.
And by all accounts the Prince enjoyed his time here, and the Island was certainly thrilled to have him in our midst. The weather was very kind, a calm, mild day with light scattered cloud …. certainly a vast improvement on the gales and heavy rain forecast just 5 days ago.
Stewart Island has had only two previous Royal visits. Many years ago Prince Phillip briefly visited Mason Bay on the west side of the Island while on a conservation visit, and Prince Edward spent an evenings shore leave while a guest of the Navy doing a circumnavigation of Southern New Zealand
The Island visit had a varied program, which included local groups, the school and children, a visit to Ulva Island, taking part in a regular Sunday quiz, and a private church service at St Andrews Anglican Church.
Around 3 months ago Iris had a phone call from the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs inquiring as to the early May availability of St Andrews Church for private service for a VIP.
All very hush-hush, and not to be publicised. I had read the Prince was visiting New Zealand around that time, and guessed it was for him. The inquiry developed over time, and was eventually confirmed. Iris is Church Warden, and so was responsible for the organisation and preparation of the Church, And so it was that at 1700 on the 10th May Prince Harry joined an invited congregation for an early evening service.
My knowledge of such things is nil, and I had wondered how it would all pan out. There was certainly lots of Police and large athletic looking gentlemen about, but it was all done with a very light hand, and quite unobtrusive. My job was to ring the bell on the Princes arrival…. and I thought “Why Not…??”, so 21 strokes it was, and I was also to take photos of the congregation pre-service, the arrival, and then the departure.
During the service I waited outside with some of the security, who were entertained by a couple of the locals, and to the delight of all concerned.