A slice of Feilding for royals
Thursday 15 Nov 2012 5:18 p.m.
By Emma Jolliff
Their Royal Highnesses Charles and Camilla went rural today with a trip to Feilding, to the farmers' markets and to meet New Zealand farmers.
They also met with the O'Donnell family, who lost son Timothy in Afghanistan two years ago.
Feilding has a population of 14,000 and it seemed like every one of them turned out to meet the royal couple. As they smiled and waved their way through the crowds it was a hard decision for fans whether to stretch out their hands or point their cameras.
The town held a special diamond jubilee farmers’ market in honour of the royal visit. There were demonstrations of rural life, and flowers from the young and not-so-young.
Much of the couple's time was spent talking to war veterans gathered at the cenotaph, in particular the family of Feilding soldier Lt Timothy O'Donnell. The 28-year-old was killed in Afghanistan two years ago when his convoy was attacked with explosives.
His mother, Mary-Anne, was today clutching the mascot Tim took with him to Afghanistan.
“They wanted to offer support and they realise how difficult it is,” says Ms O’Donnell. “For everyone else this is a kind of celebration, but if Tim wasn't dead we wouldn't be here.”
Prince Charles' own son Harry is in Afghanistan.
“Basically he made the comments of another parent, you can relate to it,” says Timothy’s father, Mark.
The prince also visited John Dermer's Waipiko farm which has been in the family for a century, while Camilla visited the Equine Research Centre and Wildlife Hospital at Massey.
The couple met Air Force personnel and their families at Ohakea before returning to Wellington for a function.
They fly tomorrow to Christchurch for the final day of their New Zealand tour.