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Whangarei Sailor farewells Queen

Royal New Zealand Navy, Leading Youth Development Specialist (LYDS) Anya Ruri was one of 24 New Zealand Defence Force sailors, soldiers and aviators in the Commonwealth contingent, marching from Westminster Abbey on Monday morning in London.

22 September, 2022

While the procession down The Mall was daunting, in view of millions around the world, LYDS Ruri says her “unforgettable moment” was when the Queen’s coffin was placed into the Royal hearse, at the conclusion of the procession at Wellington Arch.

LYDS Ruri said she had been trying to look ahead, while standing at attention, but out of the corner of her eye she watched.

“It gave me shivers down my spine. We had been standing there for ages, and it was hot, and then it was that moment when I went cold. It was indescribable. We were sore from marching, and standing there, and that made it all worth it.”

The NZDF contingent arrived a week earlier and spent that week preparing at Pirbright Army Camp in Surrey. In the early hours of Thursday morning (UK time) they were part of a full dress rehearsal with UK Armed Forces on the Mall.

A highlight of the week was the Prince and Princess of Wales’ visit to Pirbright on Friday, to thank the Commonwealth contingents for coming this far. The New Zealand contingent returned the thanks by performing the Defence Force haka.

LYDS Ruri grew up in Okaihau and Kaikohe, attending Northland College before moving to Whangarei and joined the Navy in 2002. 

“I wanted to travel and meet lifelong friends. And play sport. I play everything in the Navy. The military is really good for sport.”