On 22nd June 1901, the future King George V and Queen Mary arrived in Canterbury as part of their Royal tour of New Zealand. At the time, they were the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall.
As if on cue, the heavy clouds that covered the Lyttelton sky suddenly cleared as the Royal ship ‘Ophir’ was sighted, with its entourage, rounding Godley Heads. Although a cold wind remained, the sun beamed down as the Royals were greeted by the New Zealand Premier, Richard ‘King Dick’ Seddon, Lyttelton Mayor, T.C. Fields and Lord Ranfurly. The party then boarded a special train bound for Christchurch. There, Christchurch Mayor, Arthur Rhodes met the train and a procession through the city started, the streets lined with hundreds of excited Cantabs.
Activities planned during the visit included meeting the city’s children in Victoria Square, reviewing our troops in Hagley Park, and a Royal reception at ‘Te Koraha’ (the home of Mayor Arthur Rhodes) where the Royals were also staying during their three day visit. ‘Te Koraha’ is now the administration centre of Rangi Ruru Girls High School.
The most memorable moment was when an scruffy, homeless border collie almost knocked the Duchess down when it broke through a crowd of spectators in great excitement. Luckily, the dog was stopped before disaster struck. Secondly, to add a bit of true wonder, all the businesses that had the luxury of electricity, turned on their lights for a Royal evening walk about.
On 25th June, the Duke and Duchess waved goodbye and boarded a train bound for Dunedin.
*image courtesy of The Telegraph – http://www.telegraph.co.uk*