Nose tickle prompts an awkward exchange with Queen Elizabeth
MANY have seen Queen Elizabeth in person, a lucky cohort have shared a conversion with her, but few have sneezed on Her Royal Highness' cheek and dared to tell the tale.
Peter Kettley is one such man.
Before moving to Australia to start a career trading dinosaur fossils he served in Queen's Household Cavalry for about a decade.
He was tasked with escorting aristocrats during official ceremonies and guarding the Palace of Whitehall, but it was during a Royal Tournament that he shared his DNA with the Queen.
"Princess Ann was standing right in front of me and she called her mum over," Mr Kettley said.
"I was standing up against the wall, I got a tickle in my nose and knew I was going to sneeze.
"I thought I got rid of it but I did sneeze, and I sprayed the Queen."
In the dignified fashion that Queen Elizabeth is famous for she did not freak out or cause a scene, rather she took a handkerchief and dabbed the "spray" from her cheek
"She said, "Bless You," and that is the closest I ever got to the Queen," Mr Kettley said.
"That is my claim to fame."
Those days are long behind Mr Kettley.
He retired from the cavalry and moved to Australia in the early 1970s and a chance encounter at mineral market set his life the in a new direction.
"I saw a man selling crystals, I'd never seen them before and they intrigued me," Mr Kettley said.
"I started studying and took it up as a hobby."
When his daughter was born Mr Kettley turned that hobby in to a career.
For 30 years he travelled to Tucson, Arizona in the US to buy dinosaur fossils and rare minerals that he traded at shows across Australia.
They ranged from 400-million-year-old trilobites to small dinosaur bones and eggs, some worth up to $20,000 apiece.
In recent years most countries outlawed fossil exports, but the demand remained.
Mr Kettley said this led to a rise in fakes and a savvy trader needed a keen eye to spot the real deal.
"It is quite hard," he said.
"They used moulds and make them out of plastic, but sometimes you could heat a needle up and stick it in to make sure it is not plastic."
Mr Kettley's eye for detail led to a job appraising fossils found in Western Queensland for the Australia Government's culture heritage program.
"I did that for 20 years and I have only just quit that job," he said.
Mr Kettley is one of the many stall holders at the Warwick Rocks, Antiques, Bottles and Collectibles Fair, held over the Easter weekend at the showgrounds.
The final day of trading starts tomorrow at 8am.