There’s nary a corgi or a Union Jack to be seen in central Nelson at ten o’clock on the morning of the royal visit. There are hardly any people either. Although Trafalgar Street isn’t exactly Dead Man’s Gulch, it’s certainly quieter than usual. “Don’t quote me” says a shopkeeper, “but town is dead”.
The green-painted Spud Cart, a potential hotbed of IRA sympathisers, is not under any kind of surveillance. Beside the ANZ, there’s a small cluster of people including a child in a glittery wig and another dressed as a tiger. A woman in a peasant skirt sits smoking on a bench outside the museum. On the other side of the street, there’s another woman waiting for something to happen. She’s sitting in a striped folding chair, knees pressed against the barricade with a Fox Terrier on her lap. She’ll have a prime view of the royal entourage as it strolls by, but at the moment it’s a lonely vigil she’s keeping. A couple of women stand chatting outside Cruella’s Natural Fibre Boutique. One of them is clacking away at some knitting like an antipodean Madame Defarge.