Tea right royal occasion

By Abi Thomas

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Bev Long is hosting royal high tea at her Onerahi home in honour of Prince Charles' New Zealand visit.

Guests will have to mind their Ps and Qs at Bev Long's home this afternoon, when she hosts a royal high tea in honour of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who arrive in the country today.

But while the royal couple themselves aren't on the guest list, they'd recognise a few of the faces adorning Mrs Long's Onerahi home.

More than 2500 pieces of royal memorabilia collected over 60 years are in specially-made glass cabinets and on shelves, a collection of everything from tea sets to vases, biscuit tins and china figures. There's everyone from Queen Victoria to a whole cabinet dedicated to William and Kate. The young couple are Mrs Long's favourite royals - she believes the interest in their wedding last year has strengthened the monarchy in the eyes of many people.

Mrs Long started out collecting books on the royals, but that soon expanded to memorabilia of all descriptions.

Asked why the royals held such a fascination, Mrs Long said she wasn't sure: "I guess I've just grown up with them, to be honest. I've just moved from one royal to the next."

Her purchases come from all over the place. Many are picked up online. Her most recent purchase was from a woman in Kerikeri, selling her late husband's collection of Queen Victoria pieces.

So, to this weekend's high tea. She's got the cakes made; the pictures are on special edible paper ordered from Hamilton. The cupcakes, too, each have their own royal image. The best china - not the royal stuff, that stays in the cabinets - has been carefully washed.

Mrs Long has invited about 20 friends, family, and fellow royal fans - "people I've bought things from, people I thought would be interested".

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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