VIP Opening of DC2 or where I met Prince William

Deb on the screen and in the "fishbowl" labI made HRH Prince William laugh. How you ask? I was approached by one of the Directors of the museum two weeks ago. My presence was being requested to man the SPA in the new Darwin Center for the VIP opening day, “are you available to work that day? We have some very important VIP’s coming and we would like you to be there.” Even though I would officially be on maternity leave, I would make an exception and come back for this. I didn’t know who I would being seeing that day, I was only told to provide a brief biography of myself and describe the work I would be doing. Later that week, the afternoon session of the VIP day was then referred to as “the Royal bit.” There were rehearsals and walk throughs scheduled and even a debriefing on Royal protocol followed by yet another run through. I was told the Prince would have three minutes scheduled at the SPA to talk to me. He would know information about me and was going to ask questions.

HRH Prince William opens the Darwin CenterI made HRH Prince William laugh. How you ask? It was with the answer to one of his questions. Having asked me how I liked being on display, I said it wasn’t so bad, especially when children ask questions. He then asked what sort of questions are asked and I was honest, the number one question when you’re sitting there poking pins through insects and surrounding them with brace pins is, “are you torturing them? are you hurting them?” and he laughed a genuine surprised sort of laugh and then asked about what sort of more serious questions are asked. To which I explained about amateurs and beginners looking for advice on collecting and preparation techniques. It was a fun experience.

I stayed in the SPA for the rest of the evening, entertaining questions from other VIP guests. These included Trustees of the museum and who had very different questions and concerns than what the public would ask. Certainly, the whole issue of, “You’re not going to get much actual work done in there with people interrupting you all the time,” seemed at the forefront of their minds. I also fielded many completely irrelevant questions such as, “Judging from your accent, you’re not from around here are you?” and of course, despite my trying to camouflage it, “So when’s the baby due? Are you having in it in the UK?”

Without the promised break in visitors, I was famished by the end and was hovered over the remaining hors d’oeuvres as the Director of the Museum, with tears of pride in his eyes, toasted everyone involved after the guests had left. Again, a fantastic way to spend one of my last days at work.