Two big royal events marked the recent departure of my life in New Zealand for more adventures in Indonesia. British royalty Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, visited Auckland with their baby son, George. In Bali, it was the occasion of a double royal wedding at Ubud Palace. And I was lucky enough to be there at both.
In April, William and Kate embarked on their first tour of New Zealand – and the first official public engagement for baby George, giving the press another reason to get excited. Despite the media anticipation, my friend Sharon and I arrived at Auckland’s harbour-side Wynyard Quarter, expecting to see crowds lining the streets early, but there was no-one. So we went for some brunch. When we returned, just one hour before their expected arrival, a few people had started gathering, so we found a hot position, close to where the TV crews were waiting to interview the royal couple. As the sky threatened to rain, little children got their cards and flowers ready and everyone waited fervently for their arrival.
Sadly, the Duke and Duchess’s schedule was running late, so we – and the TV crews – missed out on a golden opportunity to see them close at hand. Their car sped by and Kate gave us a wave, as they headed straight down to the Viaduct to board Team New Zealand yachts for some friendly races.
However, we followed them down and here the pair greeted the 2000-strong crowd. I took this photo of Kate, which captures her radiance amid the scramble. She went on to beat her husband in the yacht racing. What a woman.
Less than two weeks later and I’m in Bali, back to my backpacking lifestyle. I had returned to Ubud where I was lucky enough to meet up with a couple of friends who were passing through. Zac I had met at the Sanctuary in Thailand last year and the other, Marjorie, worked at Oaklands hostel where I had been living in Auckland.
Marjorie and I met up at Puri Agung Ubud Palace where, after a week of preparations, a double wedding was being celebrated that day, for two royal princes and their brides. On the way we spotted colourful signs from local notable people and organisations marking the happy occasion. Some were lined up behind a row of motorised scooters, which are ubiquitous on this island.
Marjorie and I outside the palace
Girls in traditional dress awaited their role in the ceremony, while next to them a group of gamelon players provided a hauntingly twinkling musical accompaniment.
A car displayed outside the palace, a 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster, was a gift from an American friend of the “King of Ubud”, according to the notice alongside.
While invitations were required to enter the palace for the ceremony, we could peer in and see the set-up, including a large video screen, as the guests made their way in. The women were dressed in gorgeously lavish Balinese lace and silk, in a vibrant variety of colours and patterns.
As part of the wedding rituals, the Jakarta Post reported that the two couples participated in a enactment that morning, “which saw the grooms carrying a coconut and some fruit and vegetables on a stick, as a symbol of their commitment to his future family. Meanwhile, the brides lightly hit them with a broom, signifying their role as a motivator.” Quite an insight into Balinese culture.
While I’m sure the Duchess of Cambridge has no need to brandish a broom, maybe her yachting prowess was motivation enough for Prince William to up his game.
About Claire from Backpacking Bella|
Claire is a 30-something Londoner who left her media career behind last year to forget the working world and travel abroad (similar to me!). She put her life in a backpack and embarked on some beautiful adventures in India, Thailand, Malaysia, Bali, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Brazil and Argentina.