By AINSLEY THOMSON
Gary "Gazza" Lewis, a former Gisborne shearer set to marry the 20th-in-line to the British throne, says he is not overwhelmed at the prospect of a stately Kensington Palace wedding.
In fact, he says his future in-laws are "no different to anyone else".
Mr Lewis - Gazza to his friends - has been propelled into the spotlight since his engagement to Lady Davina Windsor, 26, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, was announced in the Times of London a week ago.
Yesterday, Mr Lewis, 33, who now works as a builder/renovator in Auckland, told the Herald the July wedding would be as low profile as possible. There would be no women's magazine stories or television coverage.
Mr Lewis, nephew of the renowned writer Witi Ihimaera, declined to say which members of the world's most famous family he had met.
"I'd prefer to keep my life as private as I can."
The story of how Lady Davina fell in love with the mysterious Maori surfer has caught the imagination of the British press, prompting headlines such as "The Royal and the Sheep-Shearer".
For the past 15 months the couple, who met three years ago on holiday in Bali, lived an ordinary life in Fisherton St, Grey Lynn.
To their neighbours they were simply Denny and Gazza.
The house the couple lived in is a villa converted into two flats.
Their two-bedroom residence is in a quiet street, with grape vines covering their quaint courtyard.
The new tenant in their flat said a real estate agent told her that a royal had lived there.
A neighbour said the couple moved out about three weeks ago because Lady Davina was going back to England. Mr Lewis was to follow her shortly.
He said the couple were "pretty reserved".
Another neighbour said it was "quite unbelievable" that a royal had been living next door.
"I'd be really surprised because I'd describe that place as poxy. Well, that's how I see it, unless it's been radically improved."
London tabloid the Mirror quoted Mr Lewis as saying: "We're just a couple that met. I mean, obviously somebody from the royal family doesn't marry a Kiwi every day. I guess that does make it a little bit interesting, doesn't it?"
According to the newspaper Mr Lewis was an accomplished shearer who is now a "penniless builder".
Mr Lewis told the Herald he has now retired from shearing.
"I used to do it when I was a young buck."
His father, Larry Lewis, was a champion shearer in New Zealand in the 1980s.
Mr Lewis' grandfather Tom Smiler said: "All I know is he is in England somewhere with a girl and she is related to the Queen or something like that. It is wonderful."
Mr Smiler said his grandson was back in Gisborne two weeks ago and went to stay on the family farm in the Matokitoki Valley.
The rest of Mr Lewis' family are politely declining to comment on the upcoming nuptials.
His mother, Viki Carr, said: "All I want is to make sure he is happy".
Barry Morpeth, one of Mr Lewis' teachers at Lytton High School in Gisborne, described him as a "lovely boy from a lovely family".
He said Mr Lewis was good at all sport, but his passion was surfing.
"He was a really neat kid," Mr Morpeth said. "He was one of those guys who could have turned his hand to anything and done well."
- additional reporting: Natasha Harris
By AINSLEY THOMSON