As Pip Merridew watched the funeral for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, from her home on Ongaonga, Central Hawke's Bay, she recognised a small but poignant detail.
As the funeral procession passed the carriage and four of the Fell ponies that the duke had driven in competitions, there on the seat beside one of the grooms was the duke's driving apron, cap, and a small pot with a red lid.
"That pot was where he carried the sugar lumps for the ponies. He always gave them a sugar lump when they got back from driving."
Pip spent 10 years as head girl for the duke's stable of driving ponies, helping to keep them competition fit and accompanying the duke when he drove on weekends as well as in competitions all over the UK.
"He was the best boss I ever had," Pip says.
She found herself headhunted as a groom in 1996 after she helped to qualify horses for a competition in the USA.
"I was working for someone else and I just got offered the job and moved from Newcastle-on-Tyne to Windsor, without even having a job interview. It was a new opportunity, something different, and my family all lived in the South of England so it was a simple choice.
"I lived in the mews in the castle grounds. We would ride and drive the ponies in the Home Park during the week, and the duke would come and drive them on Saturday, Sunday and Monday."
When the duke arrived at the stables in the morning, the staff had to first address him as "your Royal Highness". After that initial greeting they addressed him as "sir".
"We'd just speak to him normally. You'd jump on a carriage with him at 9am and not get off it until 11am and it was just you and him ... he'd chat as we were driving. It was amazing, he could talk to anyone regardless of where they were from — a stately home or a council estate.
"He never took anything around him for granted. Driving in the Great Park at Windsor he was aware of the trees, the deer and the wildlife. He had great respect for his surroundings and would talk about it as he drove."
The duke had taken up carriage driving in his 50s after giving up polo due to an arthritic wrist.
Initially he drove horses from the Royal Mews.
Pip says he never had a "made team", instead training the horses himself.
Later he drove a team of Fell ponies, keeping eight at the stables.
"The Queen and the duke were breeding Fell and Highland ponies at the time. It was their passion. They were bred to carry deer off the Fells and Highlands. They weren't bred as competition harness ponies and found it hard to keep up with the nippy Welsh ponies in competitions, but the duke was an excellent dressage driver and an amazing cone driver [driving around a course marked by cones, at speed] and he was very competitive.
"He drove in all weathers, he had his set days to drive and he would be there, through snow, rain and icy frosts."
Having spent so much time with the duke, Pip says he was very passionate about his causes, devoted to the Queen, and a very intelligent man with a great sense of humour.
"We had so much fun. He could laugh at himself, including at his famous gaffes. He would joke about them, saying 'it just came out like that'. He was always modifying something, saying 'there must be a better way'.
"I felt he was a real life hero. He did so much and never shouted about it. He had a really good team around him and we all genuinely cared about him. He earned our respect and he deserved it.
Watching the funeral, it was so good to see his ponies there. They were a really big part of his life. All that pomp and grandeur and there were these little woolly black ponies that meant so much to him.