When it comes to hobnobbing with royalty, 13- year-old Tilly-belle Robinson of Christchurch has the perfect pedigree.
“I’m not the kind of royalist who madly waves flags, but I really admire them all,” says her mother Jane Robinson (44).
“I met Princess Diana in 1986 when she opened a new wing at the hospital for the mentally handicapped in my home village in Yorkshire. “She was as beautiful as you’d imagine – very thin though.”
Jane was especially impressed when Diana took the time to greet almost everyone who’d come to see her. “The whole village was there,” she remembers. “Having said that, the population was just 200, and there were lots of press people!”
Jane’s husband Phil is a former professional cricketer and his Leicestershire captain Nigel Briars taught PE at Ludgrove School in Berkshire when princes William and Harry were pupils there in the 1990s. Phil often played cricket with the boys and their classmates.
“Nigel always said that William was a very thoughtful, kind child,” says Jane.
In an interesting twist of fate, Nigel went on to teach at Marlborough College where Kate Middleton was educated.
When Tilly-belle was one, Jane took her to meet the Queen, on a walkabout in Leicester.
“Tilly was supposed to give Her Majesty a bouquet but she was reluctant to let it go, so the Queen had to practically wrestle the flowers off her!”
The youngster became a firm royal fan in her own right after the family moved to New Zealand.
“I stayed up all night watching the royal wedding,” recalls Tilly-belle. “I even made cupcakes with flags on them!”
When the family heard the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were to visit Christchurch, Tilly-belle and her mum resolved to meet them.
“I’m very happy that Tilly admires Kate,” says Jane. “She’s a wonderful role model and certainly preferable to Miley Cyrus!”
Little Tilly-belle decided to write something especially for Prince George. Quickly her characters Kevin the kiwi, Kate the kakapo, Bella the bellbird and their friends were born. In George Meets the Kiwi, they ask the prince to help save them from extinction – and he agrees.
On the big day – April 14 – the family arrived in Latimer Square at 6.30am. “It was interesting watching security climbing trees and checking rubbish bins, and noon arrived pretty quickly.
“When the duchess stopped to talk to us, I was shocked. She loved my book and said she would read it to George that night,” says Tilly-belle proudly.
Their royal encounter went worldwide as international media highlighted the unique gift.
She’s since sent a copy to George’s grandparents Michael and Carole Middleton, and is hoping a publisher might pick up her book and help her raise money for animal charities.
“I’m a big animal fan,” she explains. “I want to get a dog but Mum says I need more maturity and commitment!”
- Celebrity NewsMatthew and Chloe Ridge: 'We have to put our kids first'
Woman's DayJun 23, 2022
- TVMasterChef NZ's Sam reveals: 'coming out made me a better cook'
Woman's DayJun 22, 2022
- TVMasterChef NZ's Lance Maynell reveals how he came back from rock bottom
Woman's DayJun 17, 2022
- Current AffairsKiri Allan's courage: 'This journey has been a gift'
Woman's DayJun 16, 2022