Wales Hails Diana with Flowers, Hosannas—and a Ewe Named Sue

updated 11/16/1981 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/16/1981 AT 01:00 AM EST

It's lovely to be here at long last," said Princess Diana, beaming as she set foot for the first time on the land that is now her realm, Wales. The sentiment was roundly seconded by her subjects, who for three days lined the royal caravan's 400-mile route by the tens of thousands, some waiting for five hours in the rain just to see her. It was the first time they had greeted a new princess in 80 years, and it plainly seemed worth the wait.

"Isn't she lovely? But mind you, she's quite a bit taller than he is," one woman observed. "She has the common touch that people love," said a man in a Caernarvon pub. An admirer, Annie Thomas, reported breathlessly: "The princess asked me if I had been waiting a long time and hoped that it wasn't too cold! In Welsh!"

One day it rained on her parade, and Diana fretted about the children. "Be sure to change into something dry," she told them. The banter reported between her and her charming Prince Charles was too good to be true. "Darling, don't walk out in the rain—you'll get wet," said he, taking an umbrella from Diana's lady-in-waiting and holding it over her ostrich-feather hat. "I am oblivious to the weather," she said, sauntering on. "It's the warmth of the welcome that matters."

There were scattered embarrassments, arranged by Welsh nationalists, during the tour, most noticeably stink bombs in Bangor ("The sewers are bad in this city, aren't they?" the Prince quipped). But a choir in Swansea dispelled the clouds of protest with a rendition of God Bless the Prince of Wales that sneaked in new lyrics: "And God bless his Princess, too."

The people loaded Diana down with gifts, including a prize ewe named Sue and a bounty of bouquets. "I feel like a walking greenhouse," Diana said with a giggle as she handed some of them to her Prince and the rest to the constables who trailed her.

Charles seemed happy to play second banana to his 20-year-old bride since July. When crowds betrayed some disappointment at shaking his hand while Diana was elsewhere, he told them with a shrug: "I'm afraid there is only one Princess of Wales."

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