Former clerk recalls time with royalty

Glenn CordingleyBroome Advertiser
Broome-born Des Haynes met the Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn in Broome in 1976.
Camera IconBroome-born Des Haynes met the Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn in Broome in 1976. Credit: Des Haynes

It has been a long time since Broome-born Des Haynes retired as the Kimberley town’s Shire clerk.

The years have rolled by as quickly as the middies of 3.5 that come his way over the bar every Friday in the company of his old grey-haired mates, known as the “round bellies”.

One yarn the 72-year-old is justifiably proud of is rubbing shoulders with Thai royalty in the Kimberley town in June, 1976.

That was when Mr Haynes, in his role with the Shire of Broome, met the country’s new king, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, now 64.

Prince Vajiralongkorn recently accepted an invitation from parliament to succeed his father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in October.

Mr Haynes was photographed with the newly crowned king sporting a typical 1970s look with a side-part dividing a thick head of hair clumping over his ears.

“From what I can remember, he was a really nice young bloke who was genuinely interested in the history of Broome,” Mr Haynes said.

“I can’t remember the reason for his visit, other than being asked to look after him for the short time he was here in Broome.

“We went to the Mangrove Hotel with his bodyguard on a Friday afternoon and had a very long lunch. I do recall he was quite partial to the odd ale, like me.”

Mr Haynes said he acted as a tour guide for the overseas guest, showing him Chinatown and parts of the town associated with the pearling industry.

“The town was very different back then as there were a lot more Asian people connected with pearling over the years still living here,” he said.

“Back then we might have had a population of about 3500, but there were a lot more Asian people living in Broome that were still alive.

“He was suitably impressed by what he saw.”

Mr Haynes did not list the encounter as his top claim to fame during his 23-year career with the council but said it was “up there with the best”.

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