I spent the past two days following Prince William and Kate Middleton around Ireland – here are my thoughts
As a journalist, every workday is different. You never know who you're going to meet, what story might break or which feature might arise at any given moment. This week was even more unusual. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I followed Prince William and Kate Middleton around as they embarked on their first official tour of Ireland.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who landed on a private Aer Lingus flight before being whisked off in a Range Rover, met with a variety of government officials and people from the community. They have visited places of significant cultural importance, as well as charities playing a vital role in society. To my delight, I got to experience it all. Here are seven thoughts I had while covering the visit:
1. Garda escorts are very exciting. As one of the journalists covering the royal tour, I went along to numerous engagements on a special media-only bus. An array of Garda cars and motorbikes (sirens ringing, of course) ensured we didn't have to stop in traffic jams or at red lights. It was thrilling (plus it was entertaining to see confused pedestrians staring as we sped by). In the excitement, I only felt slightly bad for other motorists who were held up in the commotion.
2. Kate Middleton (in real life) comes across as someone I'd very much like to be friends with. The mother-of-three seems natural and down-to-earth, someone with a fun sense of humour and a warm heart. One stand-out moment was on the steps of government buildings when she and Prince William met with Leo Varadkar and his partner Matthew Barrett. When Leo suggested the foursome wave to the crowd, Kate did an awkward wave (in a fun, quirky way) before roaring with laughter at the forcedness of it all. She came across incredibly normal – someone I'd like to have tea and biscuits with.
3. I am freezing. Following the royal family around involves a lot of standing still in icy weather; waiting patiently for the pair to arrive from wherever their previous engagement may have been. For security reasons, journalists and photographers are kept in one place (outside) with no space to move around to warm up. Besides, nobody wants to move anyway (maintaining your vantage point is essential for getting good photos). I haven't felt my toes since Tuesday.
4. I feel a bit guilty. After the excitement of day one, reality and guilt started to set in on day two. I'm a bit uncomfortable intruding on two people's lives as they go about a day's work. While I know they're used to it (at least, I hope they are), I do feel bad for invading their privacy and taking photos of their every move. I know I'd hate it if it were the other way around.
5. Not all media folk feel guilty, however. Some of the reporters and photographers I met over the past two days follow the royal family as a career. To pay the bills, they have to get the perfect shot, and so they are willing to stand on chairs and lean over competitors if necessary. Life of the paparazzi, eh?
6. I wonder does Kate Middleton have any involvement in her wardrobe choices? Or are her outfits selected for her? The Duchess of Cambridge always manages to be perfectly dressed for every occasion (wearing a green coat on arrival at Dublin airport, and a khaki Dubarry coat for a visit to Teagasc). I'd love to know if she's styling herself or if there's a hired stylist calling the shots.
7. The PR team from the Department of Foreign Affairs is exceptional. Not only did they organise the entire visit and media coverage, but their attention to detail and willingness to go the extra mile for the press was second-to-none. When my phone and power bank cut-out simultaneously, they made a huge effort to ensure I had somewhere to charge up. Above all, they were warm and friendly (which made standing about in the cold a lot more bearable).
Photo: Julien Behal Photography
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