Edward Rooney

Edward Rooney is the news editor at the Herald on Sunday.

Photo recall: Gentle words from a beautiful princess light up a small boy's childhood

In a fleeting encounter, his game of marbles attracted Diana's attention and made a memory that lasted a lifetime.

Photo / NZ Herald
Photo / NZ Herald

The simple things in life can sometimes lead to the most wondrous experiences.

It was a handful of glass marbles that drew the attention of the most famous woman in the world to a star-struck Auckland boy.

David - now known as Dave - Fisher was kneeling in the grass as the royal entourage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles were led around Eden Park, at the start of their 1983 tour.

Schools from around Auckland had children stationed in small gatherings for their HRHs to peer at and chat to. Fisher was with schoolmates from St Joseph's of Orakei.

Thirty-five thousand children sat fidgeting in the open stadium, wondering what they might say if Diana or Charles spoke to them.

Other children had set up games of hopscotch, skip rope and even an arcade game of Donkey Kong.

Fisher was making do with a bagful of marbles, probably not fancying his chances of getting any dignitaries being in the slight bit interested.

Cultural groups, in their traditional dress, were singing for all their worth to entice the Princess of Wales.

Suddenly however, there she was. In an emerald green dress with stripes and spots, white hat, stockings and shoes, a pearl necklace and earrings.

"She asked me what I was doing," Fisher says. "And I said I was playing marbles."

And that was it. Fisher's recollection of meeting Diana.

"I'm still very fond of that memory," he says.

Now a lighting production contractor, Fisher says he was extremely saddened when Diana died in August 1997.

All the more so as he recalled soft words spoken from a woman who once crouched to the level of a kneeling schoolboy to ask one of the simplest of things.

- Herald on Sunday

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