Royal memories take on special meaning as Manawatū mourns

Memories and memories of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign become even more poignant for people around Manawatū following the ruler’s death.

Palmerston North pensioner Ron Rowe was moved to take a framed 1963 photo of himself, 24, as part of the Royal Guard for the Queen’s visit to Waitangi.

Rowe was in the Navy, responsible for training the Royal Guard of HMNZ Royalist, who stood to attention for her morning appearance, and again in the evening when accompanied by Prince Philip.

The man who was supposed to be the left guide that day was unable to participate, so Rowe stepped in, perfectly in position for the precious photo of the passing Queen.

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Rowe said he called his wife Ngaire later. She asked if he had seen the queen. Technically, he didn’t. When he was over 183cm tall and was not allowed to look down, the little queen passed under his gaze.

But the experience really stuck in his memory. He never had the chance to meet her again.

Ron Rowe (right) was the left hand guide to the Royal Guard during Queen Elizabeth II's Waitangi Day visit in 1963.

David Unwin / Stuff

Ron Rowe (right) was the left hand guide to the Royal Guard during Queen Elizabeth II’s Waitangi Day visit in 1963.

Rowe said he was born during the reign of King George VI, but when he joined the Navy, aged 15, it was to the Queen that he swore allegiance.

He said she was a remarkable woman, and he was moved to tears when he learned that she had passed away.

Inez Pearce, a centenarian in Palmerston North, could be one of the last in town to receive birthday wishes from the Queen in January.

Inez Pearce relaxed on her birthday, soaking up a room full of memories with the Queen's message in the spotlight.


Inez Pearce relaxed on her birthday, soaking up a room full of memories with the Queen’s message in the spotlight.

She was very sad to hear the news on Friday morning.

“I was hoping she would get to 100. I really thought she would go on for a bit longer.”

She said her birthday message would be an even more special memory, being one of the last of its kind.

Visual artist Gill Allen was stunned by the coincidence that on the very day the Queen died she had come across the 1954 edition of the book commemorating her 1953/54 New Zealand tour, including Horowhenua.

The second-hand Royal Visit publication, bought by chance on the day of Queen Elizabeth's death, in Foxton.


The second-hand Royal Visit publication, bought by chance on the day of Queen Elizabeth’s death, in Foxton.

She found the rather tattered old book in a Foxton ops store and hardly brought it home. It costs $2.

On Friday, it took on a much deeper meaning.

Allen is English, having first moved to New Zealand in 1985, and had been a big fan of the royal family, remembering how devastated she was when Diana died in 1996.

Civic leaders paid tribute to the Queen.

Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith said: ‘It was with great sadness that I and other townspeople learned of the Queen’s passing overnight. Queen Elizabeth II was our queen and was someone who spent her whole life serving others.

She visited Palmerston North three times, in 1954, 1970 and 1977.

“Our thoughts and condolences are with King Charles III, the Royal Family, the people of Great Britain and the Commonwealth.”

The Queen signed the city’s guest book in 1954 and 1977.

Queen Elizabeth II signed Palmerston North's official guestbook.


Queen Elizabeth II signed Palmerston North’s official guestbook.

A book of condolences will be available on the ground floor at the library, using the George Street entrance, from 10am on Saturday.

Palmerston North MP Tangi Utikere said Her Majesty The Queen’s passing was “such sad news” to wake up to.

“Queen Elizabeth II was the only sovereign that many of us have known, and her steadfast and exemplary life was one of enormous service, which we will not forget.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the members of the Royal Family during this time.”

Tararua Mayor Tracey Collis said it was “very shocking and sad”.

“All our flags are at half mast and condolence books will be distributed to our neighborhood service centers.

“As elected members, we take an oath to Her Majesty, so this is a day of reflection for us.

“He’s the only monarch we’ve known in our lifetime, so there are a lot of questions about what changes need to be made.”

A minute’s silence should be observed before all senior football matches this weekend.

Judge Jonathan Krebs began proceedings in Palmerston North District Court on Friday with a minute’s silence.