IT is not every day you get to meet a prince, but it is one Orange woman Lynne Middleton will never forget.
It was a day just like any other in late October when a letter arrived at Mrs Middleton’s home from the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet.
“My first thought was ‘what have I done’?” she said.
Reading the envelope, Mrs Middleton saw it was addressed to her as a Royal Life Saving (RLS) member.
“I thought they had me confused with my daughter-in-law, Alison Middleton who is the western regional manager for RLS,” she said.
“I opened it up and started shaking when I read that I had been invited to a ‘Reception for Emergency Services Personnel in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales.
“I was on the phone immediately to Alison to find out what this was all about and if it was a mistake.”
However, unknown to Mrs Middleton, her daughter-in-law already knew about the invitation, finding out from RLS chief executive officer David McAllister the day before.
She had been selected for her involvement as a long-serving member of the RLS, an association she has had since 1965.
Mrs Middleton met Prince Charles on Friday, November 9.
She, along with other emergency service personnel, gathered at the famous Bondi Icebergs pool deck and waited.
Each group was told they would spend just six minutes with the man who may one day be king.
“He spent a short time talking to each of them, and by his facial expressions, body language and laughter, he was engaging with them on a personal level,” Mrs Middleton said.
“We were on table seven, along with members of Surf Life Saving.
“He managed to shake our hands and greet each of us ... he was just so open and friendly.”
“I wasn’t nervous, he had a calmness and he was very, very personable and he made people feel at ease.
“I was really impressed with the way that Prince Charles was truly interested in what each emergency service group was responsible for and for the way that he also asked about our everyday lives.”
With a storm about to hit, Mrs Middleton said Prince Charles’ personal secretary hurried him away after their short meeting.
“I guess what made this so special was that there are so many other people out in the community, who give so much time to helping others, worthy of a special honour such as this,” she said.
“I was humbled by the invitation but so privileged to be able to represent them.
“It was a very special moment to shake a future king’s hand and share such a close encounter with real down-to-earth royalty.”
Mrs Middleton said she wished her mother was still alive so they could share their experience, as her mother had met King George V and his wife Mary in 1919 in Liverpool, England.