By Philippa Stevenson
HAMILTON - Royalty may not have the crowd-pulling power it once had but a ride on Princess Anne's coat tails shows a regal presence can still command the horse power.
In the Waikato yesterday, on the second day of a three-day New Zealand visit, the Princess Royal notched up a traverse of Hamilton so fast it is likely to set new high standards in visitor avoidance of the city.
Around 2.30 pm her cavalcade of cars, led by a squad of motorcycle-mounted police and trailed by reporters, sped through city streets ignoring speed limits and, aided by saluting pointsmen, running stop signs and red lights.
At speeds of up to 100 km/h in 50 km/h zones the Princess was whisked the 30km from Te Rapa, north of the city - where she saw horses in the care of the protection league she heads - to Cambridge Stud, south of Hamilton, for the day's second equine encounter.
If Hamilton was a blur to the Princess, her passing seemed a mystery to residents on the royal route. As the procession - including police cars with flashing lights - sped by one man never raised his eyes from his lawn mowing.
Others looked puzzled as they snapped their heads around to see the fleeing cars.
Earlier in the day, at the Huntly Family Service Centre, a pre-school programme coordinator, Donna Blake, was grateful for the visit because it brought welcome community and media attention to the home instruction project.
"I hope we get more people [involved] as a result of this," she said as the Princess moved out of the classroom and through a crowd of children and locals.
At Turangawaewae, the Princess met the Maori Queen, Dame Te Atairangikaahu, and gave her only speech of the day, starting with a traditional Maori greeting.
After mispronouncing the words, she brought laughter from the large Tainui gathering by saying: "You have a wonderful language. I think I have done it more than enough damage already."
At Cambridge Stud, the Princess was clearly impressed with the top racing and breeding form displayed, including Melbourne Cup winners Jezabeel and Champagne, and super-sire Zabeel.
Afterwards, stud owner Patrick Hogan said he was surprised at the interest she showed in thoroughbred breeding.
"I thought she would have been more interested in how they stand," he said as her car disappeared down the driveway.
Last night in Wellington Princess Anne mingled with cricketing greats of today and yesteryear as part of a reunion for the famed national team of 1949.
By Philippa Stevenson