Yesterday afternoon I heard that her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was poorly. I was not overly concerned to begin with as only two days before we had seen pictures of her welcoming in the new Prime Minister. But when all her family were rushing to be by her side and I knew that was not a good sign. We were not told that she had already passed (she passed in the afternoon) until 6.30pm in the evening. Apparently, there is protocol that they cannot announce it until all the family have gathered.
My reactions have surprised me. I have not yet cried. I think I am still in shock as she was still carrying out her duties two days ago. I am deeply saddened by this news despite her being 96 years old. My grandad celebrated his 100 birthday earlier this year and he got a card from The Queen, so I thought she could easily carry on.
I saw The Queen in person twice. First at Ascot, but surrounded by many many people. More recently, I went to MK stadium for a celebration of Milton Keynes. The Queen was there. Two colleagues and myself were supposed to meet her to represent the charity we were working for, but that never happened. Nevertheless, we were all dressed up appropriately to meet The Queen. After the main celebrations, we decided to leave early. As we were leaving – so was The Queen. She was in her car only 200 yards away from us. She waved to us and the three of us excitedly waved back. That is the nearest I ever got to meeting her.
I have had close encounters with other members of the royal family. Prince Charles came to open the Civic Offices in Milton Keynes, I think it was 1982. I was on my work experience, working with Nat West Bank that was just next door. So, I got to see him dedicate the building. It was just luck I was in the right place at the right time. A few years ago, I was much luckier as I got to meet Princess Royal. I was working for another charity (I have worked for various charities for 20 years now) – I found her very intelligent and genuinely interested in the work we do.
But getting back to The Queen. I cannot think of another human being who has dedicated their whole life to their country. What an extraordinary woman. And how many people are still working at 96 years old? For those of you who believe we should be a republic, I disagree. We are democratic and vote in the ministers the country chooses – so let’s keep our royalty. They bring in a lot of tourists, they give the UK a unique edge, and who would want Boris Johnson or Liz Truss’ face on a stamp?
I liked what Kier Starmer said in his speech today ‘Nobody under 70 has known anyone other than Queen Elizabeth II on the throne. The late Queen has been the only Queen, and above all else our Queen. Above politics, she stood not for what the nation fought over, but what it agreed upon. A symbol of the best of us. For 70 years she stood as the head of our country, but in spirit, she stood amongst us’.
The TV is amassed with news about her and what is going to happen even though there is no further news today. The one thing that really touched me was the scene from her Platinum Jubilee, she took tea with Paddington Bear. That small bear with his earnest eyes not only made her smile, but thanked her for everything. Okay now the tears are starting to roll so perhaps I will end with this...
Thank you, Your Majesty, you touched millions all around the world. Thank you for your dedication and service. You will not be forgotten. And long live the King.