It all started with this conversation.
Me: Do you know there is a prince and princess in town?
My 5-year-old munchkin: Really? Is the princess pretty?
Munchkin: Is she smart?
Munchkin: Is she real?
Munchkin: Can I go see her now?
I thought for a moment. Why NOT? Let’s be a little adventurous and see if we can turn this momentous event into a little nugget of memory for her.
2:15pm ~ We set off on our road trip to see if we could find the princess. My munchkin directed me towards the Queenstown precinct.
2:35pm ~ We arrived at the junction of Alexander Road and Tanglin Road to see traffic police stopping and redirecting cars. We must be close. I made a hasty U-turn back to Alexander Junction and turned left towards Tanglin Road, then another left onto Margaret Drive. Nothing…
2:48pm ~ Suddenly, at the end of Margaret Drive we turned left, and saw throngs of police bikes and cars parked on the side of the road. This must be it!! We parked and ran into the Queenstown HDB area and quickly found a spot near the yellow fence.
We heard lots of cheers and loud cries from inside the neighbourhood, but no sighting of the prince or duchess from our vantage point. There was almost a carnival atmosphere; what was missing were the hot dog stands.
And we discovered we were not the only ones on the Princess trail. There was Brit citizen Helen who had come to pay homage to her future King and Queen and her friend Jo, who lives in the nearby flats. Then there was the young Singaporean couple Gordon and Sin Ying as well as students from the neighbouring schools.
3:05pm ~ Where is the royal couple? Apparently, the car park was the place to be, judging by the number of folks who risked their lives for a photo of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
3:15pm ~ No luck for us. We only caught a quick glimpse of Prince William as he drove past in his black state car.
But we will not give up. Off to the Rainbow Centre we go. As I drove off, I could see LTA officers taking photos of cars parked along the roadside from my rear-view mirror. C’mon officers, give us a break! How often do we get a visit from the Royal Family?!!
3:20pm ~ Luckily the Rainbow Centre was about 2 minutes away, but by the time I parked in a legitimate parking spot and found my way inside the compound, there was already a big crowd. Luckily, some very nice girls from Queensway Secondary school allowed my daughter to squeeze through. I was also very grateful that it did not rain. But the sun was scorching, and the Royal Couple took their time coming out.
3:55pm ~ FINALLY, the royal couple came out. And we saw the Prince, and then the Duchess herself.
No, we did not get to shake their hands or speak to them, but the Prince and Princess smiled, nodded and waved to us. My daughter got to see a ‘REAL’ Prince and Princess, and we had a really fun afternoon adventure. Mission accomplished!
The next time we have to stake out another Royal Prince or Princess, I’ll be more prepared:
1. Wear a hat, so whether it is rainy or sunny like today, your head will be well covered. Umbrellas are too cumbersome, plus it gets in the way of getting a good shot.
2. Drinks lots of fluids to keep yourself hydrated. You don’t want to chance a fainting spell, so bring a bottle of water with you.
3. Bring extra phone or camera charges and turn your camera or phone off to conserve battery power. A friend of mine had a great vantage point, but did not have the battery power to take any pictures when she finally MET the Royal couple.
4. Grab attention by bringing a bunch of flowers, flag or self-made placard for the celebrity you want to impress – you just might be rewarded with a smile, a nod, a handshake or a spot in the news (see photo above right).
5. Forget the car. Take a taxi, cycle, or walk – its much faster and less hassle.
6. If you are staking out with kids, prep them to be patient and ask them to politely squeeze their way to the front of the line. Unfortunately, you have to stay behind. Adults are kinder to kids shorter than them.
7. Have a blast staking out. Next time, I’m calling my friends and making a party out of it.