Our new friends Prince Harry and his expanding wife the Duchess of Sussex continued their working holiday in New Zealand on Monday morning when they casually popped into a cafe in Lyall Bay, Wellington, in a seven-car convoy led by two police motorbikes, and preceded by an early-morning reconnaissance by the bomb squad and another team who stood on the cafe roof and scanned the neighbouring properties with mirrors. The neighbours waved back.
"It's something to do, isn't it," said Vern Persson, 76, who lives directly opposite the seaside cafe, and watched the scene unfold with his wife Jo. He opened a bottle of red. I said, "Yes, please"; sooner or later, all royal correspondents are driven to drink, in my case sooner, because it was only my second day on the job.
It was nice to stand with Vern and Jo on their balcony and look out to sea. Lyall Bay is a friendly, salty community, with sand on the pavements, and garden succulents curled up behind white picket fences. A crowd of maybe 300 gathered to await the royal visit. A police boat shot into view, and stopped the motor, on marine guard in case any fish got the wrong idea.
We were there to witness a love story in progress. The royal couple are starting a family. Since my world exclusive in yesterday's Herald that the Duchess is with child, I can further reveal that if they have a son he will be known as the Earl of Tea.
"Narcissism! That's what it's all about," said Gene Berg, 60, an observant Lyallian who stood at the fringes of the crowd. "Look at them in profile. They have the same nose, the same shape of the face, the same chin. They see reflections of themselves."
The royal couple with one face: it was something to ponder as I watched the Prince and the Duchess get out of their BMW and walk five steps into the cafe. I thanked Vern for the drink. On the way out, I remarked that his budgie had the run of a very large cage.
"There used to be three others," said Vern. "But he tormented them."
I added the case of the serial killer budgie to my ponderings as I made my way to the nearby shops at Kilbirnie. Bernadette di Mattina, 61, stood outside Instant Finance with a cap at her feet, and said, "Any money, honey?"
We got to chatting. She hadn't known the Prince and the Duchess were around the corner. "Well, darling," she said, "give them my best."