I was sitting editing a recent wedding, yesterday evening at around 6.40pm. Given the days unfolding events, I had my headphones on with Sky News playing. The news came through. Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II had died peacefully that afternoon at Balmoral Castle.
I think, much like when 9/11 took place and Princess Diana died, we will all know where we were and what we were doing the day the Queen died. It is a huge moment in history. One of the biggest in my lifetime and so, it is fitting that I write something about her here – just as I did when Margaret Thatcher died and when Brexit happened (not that these events are anywhere near as significant as this one to me!).
When I was a child, our family – particularly my mum – were big royalists. I was named after Queen Victoria as she was a firm favourite of my Great Grandmas. My mum would purchase Royal mementoes. Mugs, coins, tea towels and lots of books and magazines. Everything paused in our house for Charles and Diana’s wedding. We even drove to Woking train station to see their train go past on the way to their honeymoon! Things paused again for Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s wedding. At the centre of it all, was the Queen.
I have had the privilege of celebrating the Silver, Golden, Diamond and Platinum Jubilee because, at the centre of it all was Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
Table of Contents
Before My Time
My mum was 6 when the Coronation happened. She has recalled to me many times about watching it. My Grandad even had a hand in constructing the stands in the streets.
Visiting Windsor Castle
This was a place that I visited and drove past a number of times. I loved walking around Windsor Great Park. For a time, I lived in Sunninghill near Ascot and was only a stones throw away from Windsor Castle.
When I was younger, my Grandma took me to Windsor Castle and, years later, I took Grace. Then Ross and I visited with Grace. It was such a beautiful place to walk around and I always felt I got a little closer to the Queen when I was there!
I can recall the year the fire happened. I was working for Hambro Countrywide Relocation which was based in Woking at the time. The Queen, understandably, was devastated. That place meant so much to her.
Visiting Buckingham Palace
I have been to see Buckingham Palace a number of times. I wanted to ensure that we paid a visit in this, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year, and so, when we were recently in London to see The Lion King, we took the children to visit the outside of the Palace. Rex saw the soldiers in their bear skin hats and. once again, we marvelled at their sense of duty given the intense heat that day.
I have had the pleasure of visiting Royal Ascot twice. Mainly though, I would watch it on tv and my favourite part was always seeing the carriages in which the Royal Family arrived. I was excited to see which members were in them and what the ladies were wearing!
I can recall taking Grace down to the area where the carriages pulled inside the area of Ascot racecourse as it was so local to where we lived at the time and being so excited as we saw the Queen come past. Grace was 3 at the time, so this was 13 years ago, and was probably the only time I got so close to her!
What Could Have Been
One of the things that really crossed my mind when we learned of the sad news of the Queen’s death yesterday, was the fact that, had things been different, then Princess Diana would today be our Queen. But, alas, this wasn’t to be.
Over the years I have warmed to Camilla. She has been dignified and remained a silent, strong member of the Royal Family and, in this Prince Charles, now King Charles III, has joined her in this. Our now deceased Queen gave her blessing over this quite recently. She said in a statement: “When, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when the time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.”
The Queen gave them her blessing – and I am all for that.
My Thoughts on the Queen
It seems surreal to know that the head of our state, our Queen, the woman who headed up our Country during the whole of the most of my lifetime (I am 51) has gone.
The legacy she leaves behind is an amazing volume of history. When she came to the throne, women were just not in positions of power. She was a beauty in the midst of many stanch, upright men. But she wasn’t just a beauty, she was strong, influential, graceful and had a sense of duty unsurpassed by anyone else.
Right up to the end she continued with her constitutional duty. Seeing out Boris Johnson and inviting in another Prime Minister, another Liz in the form of Liz Truss. This was just 2 days before she passed away. Just incredible.
Technology when she came to the throne was so different. Many of us didn’t have a television, a car, a phone. Now, look at us and how things have changed – and with this, this lady evolved and accepted that whilst history never alters, she rung in the future changes.
She has been steadfast during the darkest times. Setting an amazing example during World War II in the way she supported the war efforts, sent messages to children being evacuated and then joining the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). She trained as a driver and mechanic with the rank of Second Subaltern the five months later she was promoted to Junior Commander which was the equivalent of Captain. At just 19 years old.
The memories I have start at just 6 years old when I won Best Crown at school for the Silver Jubilee. Then, Charles and Diana and the furore that followed. Her speech during the sad loss of Princess Diana and the funeral and her part in that. For a time I was a little angry with the Queen – but not for long. She spoke from the heart, yet again finding the words to reflect the mood of a nation, and my respect and adoration for her was restored.
My two final strong memories of Her Majesty will be of her cutting a lone figure as she bid farewell to the love of her life, Prince Philip, and then of her Platinum Jubilee as she stood on the balcony on the final day of celebrations with Prince Charles, Camilla, Prince William, Kate and their children George, Charlotte and Louis. The moment which really stood out during that time was the Royal flypast and her joining in a laugh with little Louis, her Great Grandson.
No one will ever surpass her in my opinion as the strongest, most graceful, influential, inspirational, brave, bold, and amazing woman. I have always felt she was invincible, so it is no wonder that I have cried on and off since I heard the news yesterday. She was the underpin of our country and made me proud to be British.
Thank you for all you have done. You are going to be a very tough act to follow.
God Save the King.