Prince Charles, Princess Diana, and the Sheep: How the Royals Transformed One Australian Nation Town

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“Right here is 37 years ago you’re asking me to possess in suggestions,” Bryan Ward laughs. Certainly, it’s been almost four decades since he welcomed Prince Charles, Princess Diana, and a months-previous Prince William to Woomargama Jam, the farm he changed into once managing at the time, all over their royal tour of Australia, but Ward aloof doesn’t seem to beget slowed down in the intervening time—when I rang the day sooner than, he outlined with a genial disclose that he changed into once busy “deciding on up cattle poo.”

In total, tales about royalty are dripping in diamonds and pearls, featuring monumental establish cameos and (literal) palace intrigue. At times, Charles and Diana’s 1983 discuss over with to Australia and Recent Zealand had that. But then they’d return to survey cramped one William—whom Diana, famously, had insisted on bringing, breaking royal custom—in Woomargama, the country town of 90-some residents where William and his nanny stayed towards the outing.

Woomargama Jam, positioned in the city of the identical establish, is a working property. On the time, it boasted spherical 2,000 sheep, 400 cattle, and one corgi named Bryn. The latter’s fogeys, Gordon and Margaret Darling, owned the placement, and all over the royals’ handle, they had been asked to vacate their home nefarious, the six-bedroom home they’d renovated about 15 years relief and stuffed with neatly-liked Australian art. The these that bought to handle had been these cherish Ward, who labored the property, fairly loads of whom lived on the roughly 2,500-acre expanse.

A most modern photo of the placement’s farm animals.

Courtesy Clare Cannon

Veronica Semmler’s fogeys furthermore bought to handle, as her father Colin changed into once a location hand at the time. She and her brothers had grown up on the property, but at the time of the tour, she changed into once boarding in Albury (the metropolis the royals flew interior and exterior of when visiting Woomargama), finishing her senior year of highschool—and step by step ringing home to put a ask of to for updates.

It wasn’t staunch her. Semmler remembers crowds gathering by the side of the avenue in the hopes of glimpsing Charles and Diana as they arrived; cherish her, fairly loads of them might possibly furthermore rarely beget their luck. “I possess in suggestions after they talked about that they had been coming it changed into once cherish, ‘To Woomargama?’” Semmler says. “Why would they approach to Woomargama?’”

Completely, the Recent South Wales village, described in Girl’s Day at the time as “a conventional Australian country township—a pub, just a few service stations, a total store/publish workplace, a one-instructor valuable college with 12 pupils, a church or two, and a rundown team corridor,” changed into once now now not the more or much less field that steadily welcomed royalty. For Diana and country-loving Charles, though, the city and its location served as a happy and stable home nefarious for William, within utilizing distance of an airport, and roughly in-between Sydney and Melbourne, in expose now now not to look to desire one over the diversified. As Mr. Darling suggested the press at the time, “It doesn’t desire any one.”

Courtesy Clare Cannon

The Darlings beget since handed away, but they quiet articles printed in regards to the placement in a particular royal tour scrapbook, which Clare Cannon—their daughter, and the present proprietor of the placement—changed into once happy to fragment. The press clippings offer a peek of how the couple took the records of the royals’ plans to handle at the placement. They had been “a cramped shocked but completely happy” when the resolution got right here from the Prime Minister, despite their well-known connections at home and in a international country. (They counted UK international secretary Lord Carrington and Prince Philip’s on-time aide, Mike Parker, amongst their pals, and had previously hosted Ronald Reagan, then the Governor of California; as Mr. Darling outlined to the press, “We had been cessation pals in Los Angeles.”)

On the opposite hand it changed into once arranged, in the spring of 1983, the residents of Woomargama had their day-to-day lives changed into the other plot up because the media besieged the city. The Woomargama Instruct suggested residents “be variety,” and “Are attempting now now not to tread on them, even in the occasion that they’ll furthermore very neatly be crawling through the grass purchasing for a scoop photograph,” but that wasn’t truly easy for Ward, who wished to handle the farm running amid all of the madness. “My accomplice Dinah, she in fact went as a lot as the entrance gate and in actuality blocked the entrance entrance with the auto so we didn’t beget any diversified intrusions until they bought security living up,” he says.

The Darlings, after they purchased the property in 1965.


When security got right here, it got right here in force. Individuals of the Recent South Wales’ tactical response team had been installed at the gate, and the airspace spherical the property changed into once secured. A helicopter changed into once placed at the prepared attain Ward’s window, per Diana’s ask of, as Ward remembers it. “Princess Diana in fact stipulated she wasn’t going to tolerate any nonsense,” he says. “If there changed into once any breach in security, they wished out.” Fortunately, it changed into once never wished—though Ward changed into once once sent to analysis a suspected tiring evening intruder. The culprit? An previous bottle reflecting the moonlight.

Meanwhile, the Darlings had been getting prepared the home, the property’s valuable situation, for the royals’ arrival—including, as Mrs. Darling suggested the press, seeing to it that new vegetation had been placed in every room, and ensuring that the pantry changed into once completely stocked. Semmler’s household on the diversified hand changed into once caring that every one the brand new officials might possibly recall field alongside with her father’s unregistered bike (never disaster, “he bought to clutch all of the safety other folks there, and so he ended up staunch utilizing alongside the avenue and nothing took field,” Semmler says). There changed into once furthermore a tall to-slay about a cramped one cradle, specially made in nearby Wagga Wagga for the younger Prince, which required a door or two to be taken off its hinges to salvage interior. And on top of it all, they had been contending with a severe ongoing drought, rarely preferrred for a farm’s operations.

Colin Semmler, Margaret Darling, and Bryan Ward, circa 1983.


On the least one of their worries vanished when Prince Charles and Princess Diana arrived in the center of a downpour. “We step by step talked about Princess Diana broke the drought,” Cannon talked about. “It changed into once a tall day.”

Even the Windsors couldn’t ignore the storm. “Prince Charles arrived at the home and he talked about, ‘Right here is the first time I truly beget ever had to wear a mackintosh in Australia!’” Ward laughs. But Diana’s suggestions changed into once in diversified locations, he remembers fondly. “With a appetizing impact of fringe she had and these vivid eyes and a vexed smile on her face, she talked about, ‘I beget to breeze and peep cramped Wills.’ And he or she went to survey cramped Wills.”

Aside from for arrivals and departures, Charles and Diana largely kept to themselves while they had been on the property, which wasn’t that on the total anyway. For basically the most phase, the Prince and Princess had been busy jetsetting and happy-handing spherical the continent, leaving Woomargama with staunch the placement workers, palace workers, and security workers—and indubitably, cramped Wills and the nanny, Barbara Barnes.

The Prince and Princess of Wales, alongside with cramped one William, are in the market in Australia to originate up their tour on March 20, 1983.

Tim GrahamGetty Photos

Ward remembers Barnes and Prince William being pushed spherical the property each day, including spherical the “square,” where the manager’s and jackeroo’s homes had been. “They’d approach and to boot they’d quit and you’d survey at cramped Wills, and he’d smile,” Ward talked about, including, “He staunch sat in his cramped car seat and he’d smile. He changed into once a truly happy cramped chap.” Semmler remembers listening to about these drives too—and that thereafter, her mother step by step called an off-avenue they’d taken “The Prince’s Dual carriageway.”

Cannon, who never met the Windsors all over their handle, says the memoir goes that William took his first steps at the placement. Ward doesn’t recall that, but assures the younger Prince “completely crawled on the carpets a minimal of.”

When the couple changed into once in town, though, it changed into once rarely a restful fracture from their tour. Charles and Diana had been aloof working to connect with the locals, even meeting with formative years from the city’s college. (Notion to be a few of the college students “touched the Princess and he or she didn’t wash her palms for as a minimum per week after,” as Ward remembers it.)

A checklist of the royals’ occasion all over the tour.

Courtesy Clare Cannon

For her phase, Cannon remembers listening to about Diana’s interplay with a particular, a cramped eccentric local. “There changed into once an previous woman there whose household had been in the village for generations, and he or she had all these cramped gnomes out in entrance [of her home]. And Princess Diana met her and talked about, ‘oh, I cherish every your gnomes,’” Cannon laughs. “You realize, she changed into once very polite.”

The precise highlight for Woomargama residents changed into once the couple’s attendance at church service in nearby Halbrook, at the royal tour organizers’ recommendation. (The vicar changed into once given the service program and the hymns by the Windsors’ workers, per Cannon.) That Sunday, the locals gathered out of doors St. Paul’s Anglican Church that Sunday to greet the couple. Notion to be one of them, Wendy Geddes, remembers standing alongside her fellow Brownies, serving to wave them in.Semmler, whose mother changed into once on the church council, changed into once ready to approach relief home and help the service. “All I could possibly furthermore truly survey at changed into once Charles and Di, although I could possibly furthermore most effective peep the relief of their heads,” Semmler talked about. She added that Diana changed into once ultimate, and Charles, who be taught a lesson for the congregation had a marvelous teach—“he might possibly furthermore beget be taught your total Bible and I would’ve been happy”—but that just about all of all, she changed into once alarmed by how human they had been. “I don’t know what you establish a question to when royalty comes, but they’re so particular and so extraordinary and so jaw-losing, but they’ve bought two arms, two legs, they’re a recent top, ?”

Diana and Charles brought William to a photocall on the bottom of Authorities Home in Recent Zealand in April 1983.

Tim GrahamGetty Photos

For these weeks, Woomargama changed into once at the center of a nationwide memoir. Ward kept up with Charles and Diana’s travels each day by consulting their legit itinerary and paying attention to the wires he’d been granted salvage admission to to. Truckers passing by took to calling the city Windsor Metropolis. After which it changed into once over.

“We had been impact of, , country these that had been staunch getting on with living, and staunch bringing up our formative years. After which all of the sudden we had been a phase of this world which changed into once so diversified to what we had been previous to. It changed into once truly fairly weird,” Semmler muses. “After which after they left, it changed into once cherish, oh k… It changed into once cherish, for these weeks, we had been somewhere so queer and extraordinary. And in a technique, it changed into once impact of magical.”

Cannon alongside with her corgi, Eloise, at the placement.

Courtesy Clare Cannon

Traces of royalty live. Woomargama souvenirs had been made featuring the Prince and Princess of Wales, just a few of which Semmler and her household aloof beget; a plaque changed into once installed out of doors the church they visited; and the smokehouse that equipped Chalres and Diana with smoked trout aloof touts its ties to the Windsors. (Anthony Ainsworth, who took over the replace just a few years relief, changed into once alarmed when the rumors of the royal connection had been verified: “I presumed, oh! It’s precise, it’s correct!”) But Ward says that he doubts many people in town even possess in suggestions it. A great deal of them beget since died, and others beget moved away.

Cannon completely hasn’t forgotten though—and neither has her fogeys’ esteemed guest. Decades later, her husband, who happens to be consul for Monaco, met the Prince of Wales at Prince Albert’s 2011 marriage ceremony. Did he possess in suggestions Woomargama? “Oh, entirely!” Cannon laughs. “He goes, ‘How’s all these sheep?’”

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