During the Royal visit to South Africa in 1947 – this was the royal family from that small country called England, not the Zulu Royal Family or anything – there was great excitement! A special train was built, medals were struck and prime ministerships were lost – although Onse Jannie Smuts didn’t know yet that sucking up to the Engelse Koning would have that price, as he windgatted here with them at Royal Natal National Park in the Drakensberg.
In Harrismith there was the important task of choosing horses. Horses were needed so that Royal Rears could be saddled and taken for a ride. Whose horse would be chosen for which Royal when the entourage stopped at the City of Sin and Laughter, Harrismith Orange Free State?
The Royal Train puffed to a stop at Breedal station. Breedal siding, really, near the notorious, alcohol-soaked Rivierdraai stasie on the Bethlehem side of Harrismith.
Great excitement and groot afwagting. Breaths were held . . .
All I have so far is this: Dad says they chose Piet Steyn’s gentle grey gelding for Princess Margaret’s bottom. Here she is on another grey:
There may be more royal bottoms to follow . . .
. . and there are! I now have an actual picture of the day, the train, the princess and the actual gentle grey gelding:
The whole trip was a great adventure for the two princesses, being the first time either had been abroad. For Margaret, barely out of school but on the cusp of becoming a ravishing beauty, there was an added frisson. Wing Commander Peter Townsend, the handsome king’s equerry for whom she was already experiencing the early throes of love, despite him being sixteen years her senior, was accompanying them.
So the mounts provided by local farmers at various points, allowing the two princesses to enjoy rides with Townsend and the king’s assistant private secretary Michael Adeane were welcome escapes from the crowds. ‘We sped in the cool air, across the sands or across the veldt,’ remembered Townsend. ‘Those were the most glorious moments of the day.’
Engelse Koning – English King; King George; or Ou Jors if you weren’t easily impressed
windgatted – soireed; pompous party; unlikely to beindruk his voters
beindruk – impress
rooineks – Poms; Englanders; for many die vyand
die vyand – the enemy
groot afwagting – great excitement; and anticipation