Our close personal friends Prince Harry and his ballooning wife the Duchess of Sussex wandered through rain-stained Viaduct Harbour in Auckland on Tuesday afternoon as they continued their working holiday of our green and puggy land. They were 23 minutes late. A crowd of about 1000 waited, and waited, and waited; St John ambulance officers were on alert, in case some poor soul keeled over and died of boredom.
But it was wonderful to join hundreds of Aucklanders as we made our way across the Wynyard Crossing drawbridge towards an appointment with the most glamorous representatives of the sovereignty. The mood was merry. The convoy travelled one way, on foot, in prams, on those fantastically annoying Limes.
I can never resist stopping in for a browse at The Container Library on the wharf, and was able to catch up on some ancient royal watching. In volume 1 of his great 1956 work A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Winston Churchill tells the story of King Richard, killed by an archer's bow in 1199. It was a slow but dignified death. Harry's royal ancestor arranged his affairs, said goodbye to his mother, forgave the archer and gave him money. Richard died, and then, Churchill records: "The archer was flayed alive."
Well, he had it coming.
There were more issues of crime and punishment to confront when I stood with the waiting crowd and got talking with Lloyd Saxon, 65, of Waiheke Island. "I know who you are. That mischievous face!", he said, which I took as a compliment, but it turned out I knew who he was, too, also from seeing him in newspapers. Lloyd had famously got busted and was jailed for eight years for his role in one of the biggest hashish shipments in Australian history.
Now, he said, he lived as a gypsy. He was about to drive to Hamilton to see Foreigner ("Still one of the top four rock bands in the world, mate") when he stumbled upon the royal walkabout. I noticed him because he did a small, extraordinary thing: he bent down, picked up some litter, and put it in the bin.
Everyone else was in it for the selfie, the mindless, harmless outing, the moment in history. The royal tour of 2018 has been the Burger King tour: everywhere, punters wear cardboard Burger King crowns. Everywhere, too, there has been happiness.
I approached Michelle Ross, 39, because she was flying a flag marked KEEP CALM IT'S MY FIFTH BIRTHDAY. She was with her daughter Isabel Blomfield, who graduated that day from daycare, and would start her first day at primary school in Kaurilands, Titirangi, on Wednesday.
I started boring Michelle about my own daughter when a woman strode towards me and said, "Can I take your photo? This is more exciting than the royals!"
"You're a crazy person," I said to Penny Scott, a marketing manager at Ignite Architects.
"He's a famous royal correspondent," she explained to Michelle, and laughed. "He's been one for two whole days."
"Three," I said, indignantly.
And then Isabel, a gorgeous little thing in a purple top, pink skirt, and bright red shoes, with her hair in a ponytail, held out her arms to Michelle and said the word the Duchess of Sussex will one day hear: "Mama."