Real Life

Sylvia Corin’s royal collection

This Kiwi's king sized collection of royal memorabilia is her pride and joy.

When Sylvia Corin heard Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, had gone into labour, the royal devotee had a video tape at the ready.

“I thought, ‘Should I go to bed?’ But I put a long-play tape in, got up at 1am to check, and then again at 4am,” she says.

It’s not an unusual move for the royal fan, who spent nine hours outside Windsor Castle when Prince Edward married Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999.

But she was very surprised to find out the baby was a boy.

“I told everyone I thought it would be a girl, but in some ways it’s a good thing. The Queen has done a fabulous job, she’s just amazing. But it must be easier for a boy.”

The 66-year-old Orewa resident has spent tens of thousands of dollars on airfares, books and memorabilia over four decades, indulging her passion for all things royal.

At the moment, her lounge is littered with piles of video tapes that she is transferring on to DVD. She has hundreds, recorded whenever there is any mention of royals on TV.

“I call myself an archivist, because I have memorabilia collected over 30 or 40 years,” she explains.

Sylvia thought nothing of leaving her cousin’s London home at 2am to get a good spot on The Mall for Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton in 2011 – even if it meant sitting alone for 12 hours without a toilet break.

“I couldn’t leave my things or ask anyone to save my spot, so it was quite an effort,” she says.

Weddings, births and birthdays – Sylvia has collected items dating back 30 years.

Her excitement about the new arrival is through the roof. For weeks leading up to the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s son, she leapt out of bed each morning, racing to turn on the radio and TV, in case there was any news of a little prince or princess.

“I tell my friends it’s as exciting as if it was someone in my own family having the baby.”

Sylvia, a mother of six herself, couldn’t believe it when she heard their baby boy weighed more than eight pounds (3.6kg).

“I would have expected more like six,” she says. “I’ve never made an eight-pounder. I don’t know where she put it!”

Sylvia first laid eyes on the royals at the age of one. Her father was part of the Royal Marines Band Service, stationed in Portsmouth, where the royal yacht is mMored.

“He went away all the time with the royals, so when everyone was excited about them coming back, it meant he was coming back too.”

She moved to New Zealand 50 years ago, but still travels back to Britain for big events, such as weddings and the Queen’s jubilee. But seeing royalty in New Zealand is a whole other level, Sylvia says.

“I have spoken to Prince William, Prince Charles and the Queen. It is easier to see them up close here,” she explains.

“They give so much pleasure to so many people, but it is such a long way for them to come.”

Even the members of the royal family have expressed their surprise at her dedication. When Sylvia saw Prince Charles at the Auckland War Memorial Museum shortly before his marriage to Camilla, she was wearing a Union Jack hat she collected during celebrations of his wedding to Diana.

“The lady next to me said I should put it on. He spotted it and called out, ’Where did you get that hat?’ I had to tell him it was from his wedding to Diana. He said I had looked after it very well, because it must have been about 30 years old.”

But her favourite experience was meeting Prince William when he visited in 2011.

“I was so pleased to see he is such a lovely young man and so happy, after all the trauma he has been through,” she says.

While he won’t join her at any more events, her husband, Frank, is patient at least. When she was at the jubilee, Sylvia called him, looking for someone to share the moment with.

“I asked if he could hear the music, but he was busily trying to record it for me.”

Susan Edmunds

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