When reporting on Royal tours, one should dress appropriately.
Apparently, that doesn’t include pink shorts.
It was 1988, and I had been given the role of covering part of Princess Diana’s trip to Australia.
A very small part. Just a few hours. On Terrigal Beach.
The newsroom policy at the time was to have me out on location as much as possible. Possibly to maintain the sanity of colleagues back in the office.
Being radio, there was no need to be dressed up. In my mind at least. And given the totally inadequate nature of my wardrobe, that was just fine.
I did lots of work wearing shorts. From courts to council meetings, and the local league match of the round. Pretty much any job that took the boss’s fancy. No one seemed to mind.
We were issued with shirts, that had the station logo proudly emblazoned on the front. What we wore below the waist was up to us.
So it was that on the morning of this historic visit, I dressed like any other day. Daggily. Possibly without the use of an iron. White station polo shirt. And those pink shorts.
All I can tell you is, it was the eighties. Pink was in for blokes. Or so someone said.
Not that I wasn’t excited. Charles and Di were here as part of the Bicentennial celebrations. Images of their trip to the sand and surf would go around the world.
I had been given clear guidelines on what was needed. Waffle on a bit about what the Royal visitors got up to. Talk to some gushing locals. And stay out of the way of those who knew what they were doing.
It’s true that there was no-one else in the press corp wearing pink shorts. I’m pretty sure it gave the Fleet Street lads something of a laugh.
The guest of honour was striking. Everything you’ve ever read and more. I still remember that yellow dress. And the shy, dazzling smile. But I have only the vaguest recollection of Charles that day. I dare say the rest of those on the beach might be the same.
She had her photo taken with some Aussie lifesavers, looking resplendent in their budgie smugglers. They managed to take the spotlight away from my skinny legs.
I’d like to think Diana noticed me. After all, she was a fashion expert. If anyone could appreciate my unique dress sense, surely it was her.
If she did, she kept it to herself. No so much as a mention in any of the Royal biographies.
It’s a long time ago, and my memory has faded with time, but I’m pretty sure we didn’t need special security passes.
There were thousands of people there, all enjoying the spectacle, pretty much going where they wanted. Some even came out of the surf to catch a glimpse.
How different it will be this week, when the Queen comes to visit.
Security will be stifling. There’ll be screening areas, and sniffer dogs, and heavily armed officers at every turn. A different time.
Royal watchers will be out in force, happy to be herded like cattle into secure zones. Flags will be waving. But it won’t be the same as that wonderful day with Lady Di.
For starters, Her Majesty won’t have her photo taken with anyone in Speedos. Actually, that might be a good thing.
If you’re part of the crowd, keep an eye on the media gang. Let me know if you spot a reporter game enough to wear pink shorts. Male, not female. After all, these fashion trends come and go. Diana would be proud.