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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 3 (July 1, 1927)

When Royalty Travels

When Royalty Travels.

New Zealand railwaymen will doubtless for long recall the wonderful scenes associated with this year's visit of the Duke and Duchess of York. Royal travellers are, of course, numerous at Home, and the railwaymen here are intensely proud to be associated with the movement of royalty. Royal travel is to-day by no means so imposing an affair as in days gone by, yet only the most trusted railway workers remain intimately concerned in this branch of activity, many of these picked men having acted as drivers, firemen or guards of royal trains on innumerable occasions.

Probably the Home railwayman best known to royalty was Mr. Tom Willie, a Great Western guard, who recently retired after half a century's service. Willie served as guard on almost every royal train run on the Great Western in the reign of three Sovereigns, his first trip being with Queen Victoria from Windsor to London forty-six years ago. King Edward, Queen Alexandra, the Duke of Clarence, the present King and Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of York, and Princess Mary are a few of the many Royal personages with whom Willie came in contact. Queen Victoria, Mr. Willie recalls, was a most exacting traveller, and hated speed. In contrast, the Prince of Wales invariably gives the instruction “Let her go!”; he hates fuss, and never forgets to give a kindly message of thanks to every railwayman engaged on the run.