Lakes District Museum director David Clarke’s one of the last people to ever receive the Queen’s Service Medal.
Last week, Clarke travelled to Government House in Wellington to be presented with the medal for services to heritage preservation.
He says the experience was amazing, doubly so as the recipient list signed off by the Queen and the medal, bearing her head, were the last of her reign.
While no doubt the QSM is the crowning jewel, Clarke’s life and career has been punctuated by ‘‘fleeting connections’’ with the Queen.
His mother, ‘‘a great royalist’’, gave him the kingly name David James, while his brother’s called Philip.
‘‘We were dressed in little t-bar sandals and white socks — it’s a wonder we didn’t have corgis, actually.
‘‘During the Queen’s [Christmas] speech my mother would be perched in front of the TV and say ‘right, I want quiet’ and then my father would go ‘load of rubbish, what a load of rubbish’ — he wasn’t a monarchist,’’ Clarke laughs.
In 1990, just a few months after starting at the museum, Clarke was alerted by the Royal Office the Queen was coming to visit.
Sworn to secrecy, Clarke says he was daunted by the visit, having not yet cut his teeth with visiting dignitaries.
However, when the Queen and Prince Philip came to Arrowtown, accompanied by then-mayor David Bradford and his wife Wendy, Clarke realised he needn’t fret.
‘‘They walked from the bakery up the main street, which was packed with people … a couple of young girls gave her flowers and then she came up the ramp to the museum and I’d done a display of her mother’s visit in 1966.’’
Clarke shook the Queen’s hand and chatted with her about the display, before she and Prince Philip signed the visitor book.
‘‘They had a knack of making you feel very relaxed,’’ he says.
‘‘She amazed me with how small she was, but also with her beautiful complexion … and they were both really friendly.’’
He recalls during the visit, the mayoress was supposed to be accompanying Prince Philip, while the mayor was to be with the Queen, however Wendy instead introduced the Queen to her mother.
‘‘So, Philip was sort of just standing there and he put his hand out and said ‘hello, my name is Philip’ — I almost said, ‘really?’,’’ Clarke laughs.
At the news of the Queen’s passing, Clarke says he’s moved by ‘‘a life well lived in amazing service’’.
‘‘I think my mother’s push of the monarchy was partly due to the fact that there hasn’t really been a better system of governance … the monarchy system has stood the test of time, probably because of the Queen.’’
Tomorrow, coinciding with the one-off Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day, Queenstown’s St Peter’s Anglican Church is holding a memorial service, starting 10.30am.
— Additional reporting: Tracey Roxburgh
Boult remembers Queen’s affability
Queenstown mayor Jim Boult says he had the pleasure of personally meeting the Queen on two occasions, and in each instance had been in awe of her affability.
Boult first met the Queen and Prince Philip during the Royal visit of 1990, during an outing to the Shotover Jet in Queenstown.
‘‘I was slightly amused when I look ed at the photograph [right] because I thought there goes a mayor with hair, but anyway the Queen wasn’t allowed to take a trip on the boat because it was considered, I suppose, un-queenly.
‘‘But Prince Philip in particular was greatly taken by the boats and questioned me at length about them and I rather got the impression he’d have loved to have got on one and gone for spin,’’ Boult says.
In 1995, Boult met the Royal pair again at the opening of the Christchurch tramway.
During the tram’s inaugural trip around the city, Boult was privileged to enjoy a significant amount of one-on-one time with the Queen.
‘‘I sat with the Queen for half-an-hour on my own, which is quite unusual … and [wife] Karen sat with Prince Philip on the other side of the
He was struck by ‘‘just how easy she was to talk to’’.
‘‘I think she really did have a special feeling for New Zealand and NZers.
“She didn’t tell me as much, but I got the impression visiting NZ was one of the better parts of the job.’’
On January 18, 1954, Kingston Flyer loco AB 795 pulled the Royal train carrying the Queen, and Prince Philip, from Greymouth to Otira during their first visit to New Zealand — also the first visit to NZ by a reigning monarch.
With the steam train returning last Sunday to scheduled passenger services for the first time in nine years, from Kingston to Fairlight and back, Kingston Flyer Ltd director Neville Simpson decided to put the royal insignia on the front of the train three days before the Queen’s funeral.
‘‘It’s the only QEII Royal train steam loco still in service in NZ, so it’s very special because of that,’’ he says.
Meantime, tomorrow, coinciding with the one-off Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day, Queenstown’s St Peter’s Anglican Church is holding a memorial service, starting at 10.30am
— PHILIP CHANDLER