Royal family’s absence at Hillarys funeral disappoints KiwisJanuary 19th, 2008 - 1:54 pm ICT by admin
Wellington, Jan.19 (ANI): The absence of any member of the royal family at Sir Ed Hillary’s funeral on Tuesday has been labelled by some as a snub to one of the great heroes of the British Empire.
Sir Ed’s successful ascent of Mt Everest in 1953 was heralded as a triumph for Britain.
The announcement of the success of the British-led expedition was delayed four days to coincide with the coronation of the Queen on June 2.
Prime Minister Helen Clark confirmed yesterday that she and Governor-General Anand Satyanand would represent the Queen “both officially and personally” at the funeral of Sir Ed, one of only 24 Knights of the Garter appointed by the monarch.
The Queen has offered the Hillary family a memorial service at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on a date in April yet to be determined.
A spokeswoman for Miss Clark’s office was quoted by The Dominion newspaper as saying that Lady Hillary was closely involved in the planning of the funeral and that she was happy with the arrangements.
The Queen’s offer of a memorial service at Windsor Castle was “very unusual and quite rare” and a mark of the respect the 81-year-old monarch held for Sir Ed.
The service at Windsor Castle would not be a small, private ceremony but a major memorial service for Sir Edmund with hundreds of New Zealanders present, Miss Clark said.
However, the chairman of the Republican Movement of Aotearoa New Zealand, Lewis Holden, said the royal no-show disappointed members.
It took Sir Ed and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay 81 days to walk from Kathmandu to the summit of Everest - yet the “tyranny of distance” meant the royal family could not spare 24 hours to fly to New Zealand.
“This national day of mourning is the sort of occasion where the presence of New Zealand’s head of state would be appropriate,” Holden said.
“The absence of the royal family shows plainly they are not able to do the job for New Zealand. We don’t think the Queen is doing a bad job - she’s just doing the wrong job.”
Buckingham Palace’s press office denied the Queen’s non-attendance is a snub.
The royal diary on the British Monarchy website shows the Queen has two engagements next week - both on Thursday at King’s Lynn, near Sandringham House where the Queen traditionally spends January.
She is visiting a preservation trust on its 50th anniversary and opening a new CT scanner/radiology suite at the town’s hospital.
The Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, has no official engagements next week.
The heir to the throne, Prince Charles, has three official engagements for next Tuesday and one on Monday, and his siblings Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and Princess Anne have various engagements through the week.
Sir Edmund’s body is to lie in state in the Auckland Cathedral of Holy Trinity in Parnell on Monday, when members of the public can file past the casket and pay their respects.
On Tuesday morning, Sir Edmund’s casket would be taken from the Cathedral next door to St Mary’s in Holy Trinity in a short ceremonial procession before the state funeral at 11am.
Speakers will include Miss Clark, Hillary family members, and Norbu Tenzing Norgay, the eldest son of Sir Ed’s Everest climbing partner. (ANI)
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