As soon as she left the Littles and retraced the steps she had taken the previous day, Elizabeth ran into the crowds. She had never seen so many people. They were all heading the same way she was and she was swept along in their midst. She began to panic as the pace slowed right down and the volume of people increased, merging on the same spot from all directions. She tried to turn back and find an alternative route, but the people kept on coming, pushing forward excitedly, many carrying flags and bags of confetti. When she tried to push her way back, a man elbowed her in the ribs and she stumbled and fell. Someone yanked her to her feet but in the crush she couldn't see who had helped her. The noise was getting louder. Cheering and singing.
She turned to a woman and asked her, 'Is someone getting married?' The woman looked at Elizabeth as if she'd lost her mind, shook her head and turned away without answering. Over the heads of the crowd in front she saw a large building, with a portico and clock tower, the façade of the building hung with enormous flags – the Union Jack and the flag of Australia. She turned to another person and asked 'Where's everyone going? What's happening?'
This time a man answered her. 'To see the Digger Prince. Where've you been hiding darling? Up on the planet Mars?'
'The Digger Prince?'
'The future king himself.' The man assumed a hammy English accent: 'His Royal Highness, Edward, Prince of Wales. Look there he is – up there on the platform. The fella waving his hat at us.'
She pushed herself onto her tiptoes but the crowd was so dense she couldn't make out the figure of the Prince. She turned back to the man. 'How do I get through? I need to go in the other direction, down to the harbour, past the Circular Quay.'
The man laughed. 'Not yet you won't. You'll have to wait your turn and follow the crowd. We all want to get a glimpse or even have a touch.'
'But I don't. Please. I don't want to see the Prince. I just want to get past.'
The people around her started mumbling in disapproval. The man spoke again. 'Did you hear her? She doesn't want to see the Prince! Her a Pommie and all. Bloody unpatriotic I call it. You should be ashamed of yourself.'
Almost screaming in frustration, Elizabeth had to concede defeat and shuffle along with the masses in the slow, steady advance towards the Town Hall.
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