Meeting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on a tram last Thursday was an unforgettable, bizarre experience. Rhonda asked me if I would be interested in taking a tram ride with the royals a few weeks ago now, and I couldn’t really believe that it was a serious proposition. It felt cruel that I had to keep such a secret from others.
On the day, we waited at the top of Victoria Avenue for a few hours and were instructed as to how to conduct ourselves on the tram. This meant referring to Harry and Meghan as ‘your royal highnesses’ the first time we spoke to them, addressing them as ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’ henceforth and waiting for them to offer a handshake rather than doing so ourselves.
So many people (and their dogs) had gathered to catch a glimpse of the royals. There were students in uniforms from an array of different schools likely ditching class to be there, people standing on the rooves of shops to secure a better angle and more police officers than I’ve ever seen in one place. To be honest, D’Art and I felt pretty chuffed just to be standing in front of the barriers keeping the sea of spectators at bay.
Finally, it was time for the group of us – D’Art, four primary school students and myself – to board the tram, which was surprisingly one of the typical, green-coloured new ones. I’ll be honest, it was the cleanest tram I have ever ridden, and most likely will ever ride. We had assigned seats with our names on them, and D’Art and I had no idea we would be as close to the royals as we were. We had thought that there would be lots of people on the tram and that we might be lucky enough to get a ‘hello, nice to meet you your royal highness’ in there. However, we were each of us seated next to either Harry or Meghan, and aside from the four students from Albert Park Primary School and Middle Park Primary School, the only other people on the tram were the royals and media personnel.
When Harry and Meghan finally approached the tram, they were greeted by continuous screaming from the Albert Park Primary School students and members of the public.
As for the question I have often been asked; no, they did not touch on their Myki cards.
They boarded the tram and took their seats, shaking our hands and exchanging pleasantries. In terms of what we talked about, one other student explained that his grandmother had danced with Prince Philip a long time ago, and Harry asked me and the two students sitting with us what schools we went to, what we wanted to do when we were older, and about the sustainability programs in the area – it’s hard to have a worldly conversation in four minutes! While we didn’t get to talk about a lot, I got the impression that Harry was a lovely person, Meghan too, and was sad when the tram ride was over seemingly almost as soon as it had begun.
All in all, it was a wonderful, strange experience. I still don’t quite understand how it was that I wound up sitting on a tram next to the Duke of Sussex, but it was pretty damn cool.