The British Royal Family has always been a big part of my life. MyGreat Grandmother was a huge fan of Queen Victoria and it was how my mum chose my name. My mum has always been a big Royalist and I guess that I followed in her footsteps.
One of my earliest memories was the Queen’s Silver Jubilee back in 1977. My mum helped me to make a crown to enter into a competition. There was a girl and a boy winner from each class – and Graham Methold and I won from ours. Then, there were the Royal weddings of both Charles and Diana and Andrew and Sarah. There were street parties galore and I can remember going down to the Woking railway line near our house just to watch Charles and Diana’s train go past as they departed for their honeymoon!
I used to follow all the Royal births. I loved the parades by the Royal family at Ascot – living in nearby Sunninghill in my late 30s meant a lot to me. The Charles and Diana break-up was so sad. The death of Diana was heart-breaking.
Years later, one of the first things Ross and I sat together to watch as a couple was William and Kate’s wedding. We also celebrated the Queen’s Golden Jubilee at a party hosted by my brother and sister-in-law.
One of the members of the Royal Family, who was always quietly there in the background was HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. I always saw him as extension to the Queen and, I used to love watch him partake in the carriage driving. I grew up loving the horses as well – so this was just an extension of two things that I took joy in.
The thing is, Prince Philip always came across as such an unassuming man to me. I know many said that he was racist but I am one of those people who thinks that there are two sides to every story and was sure that there was more to it than that. He didn’t come across as a nasty man – and his support of the Queen, his children and all the many charities came across to me. The fact that he had Nazi relatives must have been really hard for him to deal with but he did.
He was always the man behind the Queen but that all changed when I saw him partaking in the sport of carriage driving. Horses have always been a big love in my life and, to see him doing this, was fantastic. I thought he was old then! I found out today that he was 50 when he took up that sport. I turn 50 in just over a month – and it has definitely spurred me on! My only regret is never taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme – although, I am pleased to say that Grace is.
I shared an article on my Facebook feed recently about Philip and his sense of duty. Piers Morgan wrote it and it echoes so many feelings that I have.
The funeral which took place was full of military precision and respect. So many wonderful traditions and, at the heart of it, a family. Not simple, but complex and intricate. A family, like any other, with differences but sharing their grief.
I think what concerns me most as I approach half a century, is that these values may be starting to get lost amongst the noise of the woke and the snowflakes and the people who are quick to complain but slow to find help or support and would rather go and shout all about it over social media. I do hope that the generation who comes through as my daughter grows up will be respectful of others, show consideration and compassion but not keep whining and complaining.
I have never left a message of condolence before. I did today. This is what I wrote:
Sir, you have been a part of my life ever since I can remember. I have never felt compelled to leave a message like this until I watched your funeral service this afternoon. My mother, her mother and her mother before her have always been supporters of the Royal Family. I was named after Queen Victoria because my Great Grandmother loved her so much. My Grandad and his family fought in many wars and promised to serve the Queen and our country. I have always had a massive respect for you and what you do. I have always believed that there are two sides to every story. The fact that you never complained, never explained and never aired your dirty linen in public must have been very hard but was so respectful. You only really came to my attention because of my love of horses. Before that, you were always the man in the background behind the Queen. I heard for the first time today, during your funeral service, that you did not take up carriage driving until you were 50. I turn that age in just over a month – and if I can still achieve half the things you did in the remainder of your lifetime then I will be an extremely happy lady. Thank you for the memories. For being a true supporter of our Queen. For giving your life for the service of your country. You will always have my unwavering respect. May you now rest in peace. Sending my sincerest love and condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and to the rest of the family.