'He was just the right height as well . . . '
When Prince William dropped in on Christchurch, the cynics stayed home.
Last updated 09:36 20/03/2011
Just after 10.30am on Friday in Sumner, His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, Royal Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, or "Wombat", as his famous mother used to call him, shook the hand of 14-year-old Sumner schoolgirl Roshanna Masalamani, and said three words: "how", "are" and "you".
She lost the plot. Fifteen minutes later the tears were still streaming down her face.
"He was really tall and good- looking. He reached over and, like, shook my hand. His hand was really warm," she said.
"I cried when I first saw him. Then I was depressed when he crossed the road. Then I was excited because he was coming back. And then he came and I got a handshake and a 'how are you?' And then he was talking to the little dog next to me. It was the best moment of my life."
Roshanna's two friends were only slightly more contained.
"He was just the right height as well. Everything about him was perfect," said Blaise Turnbull. What? Even with thinning hair?
"He's a prince," said Kate Wright. "Nobody cares. Anyway, he was too tall for me to see the top of his head. It doesn't matter as long as you're shorter."
It wasn't just 14-year-olds who wept during the Sumner leg of his mini-tour of disaster-stricken Australasia.
"It doesn't take much to set me off these days," said a red-eyed Kate Withear, whose 14-month-old son Harry was wearing Union Jack slippers. "I find it lovely that he came. Every time someone makes a nice gesture it brings it all back, I guess."
In Sumner the sky was blue, the air crisp, and there was a boulder the size of a house on what used to be the RSA. There were about 1000 people lining Wakefield St, though some of them were just there to see what the fuss was about. There were skateboarders and people picking up coffee - and a gaggle of 16-year-old girls in lipstick and denim shorts waving a flag, roaring and yelping. "We're all lifeguards," bellowed one. "I'll save his life," said another. "If he needs CPR he knows where to come."
Grouches were absent, although one woman said her republican husband stayed home, unwilling to "waste the shoe leather".
It took under half an hour for the prince to work his way down the street, flanked by an MP, media and two bodyguards, all the while stopping for a friendly nod, a handshake or a conversation.