When I Met the Queen - Exhibition for the Diamond Jubilee 2012
“WHEN I MET THE QUEEN”
This small display is a collection of memories and artefacts showing how Queen Elizabeth II has touched the lives of Ashwellians and their families. It was created for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
Regardless of how we may feel about the monarchy, it provides an insight into the many different ways in which the Queen interacts with her subjects. She is a master of meeting and greeting people from all walks of life and expertly puts them at ease.
How would you feel if you encountered her, for a fleeting glimpse, or an official meeting?
Contributor: June Fordham
The only picture ever published of Princess Elizabeth (first left front row)in a swimsuit. Taken at the Bath Club when she was a member of a team for the challenge Cup, she was thirteen. June Fordham (centre front row) was another member of the team.
Contributor: Catherine Dunlop
When a student at The Royal College of Music in 1947 I played the harp in the orchestra on a visit of the (then) Princess Elizabeth. The Princess was a patron of The Royal College of Music.
There was much excitement in the orchestra because HRH had just become engaged and they hoped to catch a glimpse of her ring.
Contributor: Roger Cooke
I was aged 17 and in my last but one year at school at
Repton near Derby. The School was celebrating its forth centenary. HM was due to be visiting the area during that year and it was arranged she should visit the school as part of the celebrations (the story current at the time that she was looking for places to send Prince Charles was probably just a story – certainly it didn’t happen.)
It was very soon after Prince Philip was officially made a Prince and his style of address had changed so the proceedings began with an inspection of a guard of honour drawn from the school cadet force which concluded with the parade commander shouting at the top of his voice without drawing for breath and ending on a rising note “Three cheers for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second and His Royal Highness the Prince Philip of Edinburgh”.
The school had a very fine library in what had been a 12th century monastic guest house. I was the senior school librarian and as such was deputed to give HM a quick tour (with a passing reference to the “beating block” used by a tough 19th century Headmaster and a quick look at the designs for the new school buildings).
It was an interesting insight – early in life – into how these things worked. I was told what to say and memorised it as best I could. The photograph shows the Librarian nervously trying to recall what he was to say next and HM showing a creditable interest in the new school buildings (I think Prince Philip had just lightened the atmosphere by making a crack about the buildings, which were a bit modern). On the right is my headmaster, Lynam Thomas and part hidden on the left Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher former Headmaster and now chairman of the governors, who was very good at helping the nervous to keep going.
Contributor: Michael White
I joined the R.A.F in 1951 as an Airport Apprentice aged 16. Shortly after completing the apprenticeship in 1954 I applied for a posting to H.M The Queens Flight then based at Benson in Oxfordshire. The flight consisted of 3 Vickers Vikings (hand polished), a de Havilland Heron and a Westland Whirlwind helicopter.
The role of the Queen’s Flight was to fly members of the royal family and other V.LP.s on visits and tours.
I was part of the team responsible for the service, maintenance and repair of the aircraft instruments specialising in those involved in navigation i.e. compasses, autopilot and instrument landing systems etc.
I served on the Queen’s Flight from 1955-1958 and encountered all members of the royal family on many occasions. I was part of the support team which accompanied the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh on their tour of Nigeria in 1956.
When I left the Queens Flight in 1958 to work on the Thor Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles I was awarded a Royal Victorian Medal on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 1959 for personal service to the sovereign.
I was invited to Buckingham Palace with two guests (my wife Sylvia and my mother) as the Queen was away on a tour the awards were presented by the Queen Mother.
Contributor: Susan Greenbank
My parents were presented to the Queen in
November 1961, when my father was posted to the Canadian Embassy in London. The photograph was taken as they left home that evening. Unfortunately, no photographs were taken at Buckingham Palace.
My mother had the dress made for the occasion.
The invitation from Buckingham Palace came with strict instructions on acceptable attire for the evening. Dresses were to be long, with modest necklines and with sleeves. Short sleeves were acceptable, provided long gloves were worn.
Contributor: Susan Greenbank
My family was living in Ottawa in 1977 when the
Queen paid a state visit to Canada to celebrate her Silver Jubilee. My parents took me and my siblings to City Hall to see her, as the crowds there were expected to be smaller than on Parliament Hill. It was a good decision and we had a clear view of her as she emerged with the Mayor, but I do remember being somewhat disappointed by the Queen’s choice of hat.
The band played “Oh Canada”, the Canadian national anthem, but a woman in the crowd insisted on displaying her loyalty by singing “God Save the Queen” loudly over the band. The effect was wincingly awful, and the Queen wisely ignored her.
Contributor: Roger Cooke
In 1185 the Temple Church in London was dedicated; traditionally in the presence of King Henry II and the great men of the realm. In the summer of 1985 to mark the 8th centenary of the dedication (the church was now and for many centuries has been the joint chapel of the Inner and Middle Temple Inns of Court) the Queen (King Henry’s remote descendant) was invited to a special service and celebration. I forget how we came to be on the list to attend – there may have been a preference for those who had been married there, as Hilary and I had.
And then I think there was a ballot to be on the list to be presented to HM, in which I was successful. Two memories stand out, on how youthful both HM and Prince Philip looked (she would even then would have been getting on for 60) and the patience with which she had to listen to my attempts at explaining the area of the law in which I practiced.
Contributor: Tracy Young
‘An experience of meeting the Queen from afar’
In the summer of 1986, I was in the final year of my Physics degree and living close to our Runnymede campus near Windsor. To while away the time between revision stints my friends and I would often go walking in the nearby countryside. I remember a particularly sunny day wandering along and seeing large crowds, cars and horses…we then realized that we were walking next to the Windsor Polo Grounds. There was a polo match going on. Security was nowhere near as tight then as it is now, and my friends and I were able to climb over a low fence and walk amongst the car park, eventually reaching the polo ground itself. From the signs around, we realized we were witnessing the Cartier International Polo match! We mingled in the crowd, and then watched a couple of chukkas. At half time we were privileged to rush onto the ground, and push down all the divots that the horses had lifted up. Only then did we look up to the royal box and realize that the Queen herself was looking down!
Contributor: John Gearing
The first time that I met the Queen was as a third year student at Oriel College Oxford where the Queen is “Visitor”, and during this year she turned up for dinner in College on one occasion. As only the scholars and exhibitioners were allowed to be sitting at table with her (along with the Fellows), I stood on the pavement outside with Pamela Sills and Sonja Perfect to waive to her as her Rolls-Royce turned in to Oriel Square. She turned and I am certain acknowledged us there and then with her regal smile.
Twenty years later having spent 60-70% of my time travelling abroad, we had taken the sales of Polymer Laboratories Ltd from under £250k to over £3.5 million with about 80% export, and so were awarded the Queen’s award for Export in 1987. Early the following year three of the company were summoned to the Palace to meet the Queen and Prince Philip.
We arrived at the Palace gates and the car was searched by the Metropolitan Police for bombs etc., before the main frontage of Buckingham Palace (as seen from The Mall). We then walked in and up the impressive staircase with beautiful clocks on every landing to the first floor. Then in turn we were introduced to the Queen and Prince Philip, and my first impression was that he was shorter than I had expected, being able to look him straight in the eye! After a brief exchange of words we moved on to the main reception, where several other important guests were too including the then Prime Minister, The Right Hon. Margaret Thatcher, with whom I had quite an interesting personal chat about Chemistry, until someone butted in with a political point – when she reverted back to the “political answering machine”.
From the reception room there was a beautiful view of the three acre garden behind the Palace, which so few of us get a chance to visit, complete with ponds and water features and plenty of wildlife. After a couple of hours of the generous reception, a wall of servants slowly moved everyone back towards the exits so that the Royal audience was over on time. Another memory is that hidden in the beautiful wooden paneled walls were small doors, behind which the loos were!
Contributor: Roger Cooke
Most reasonably senior public servants receive an invitation to a Royal Garden Party at some point of their career and that ij how we came to get there. Garden parties are huge affairs, something like 3000 strong and the chances of bumping into one’s sovereign not very high. But encounters are impressively well organized (presumably by the Palace civil servants.) Three or four senior Royals (usually including HM if she is there) form the centre of a circle of guests and the officials scout out from among the guests people who think the Royal in the middle of the circle would like to meet. It seemed to work very well and fairly. Then (and maybe still) it was very much a “morning coat” occasion and the photograph shows how we went. The morning coat is the one in which I was married and is beginning to look well lived in.
Contributor: Margie Wallace
In 1994 the London school at which I taught reached its centenary. As a newly-retired Deputy Head I was invited back for the Royal Visit, the culmination of the year’s celebrations. The Queen toured the classrooms, talking to the pupils with warmth and interest; she planted a tree and listened to an opera, following the sort of programme she must have performed hundreds of times, and apparently enjoying it. How easy is it, I wondered, to accept a cup of coffee and a crumbly biscuit from a proud 10 year old from the domestic science class, go round a large room being introduced to twenty-five or so people, shaking them by the hand and exchanging a few words, and arrive at the other end of the room with the biscuit imperceptively eaten, the coffee drunk
The only slight hitch in a very happy day happened when the Headmistress and the Queen entered the lift to descend to the ground floor. The Headmistress pressed the button and the lift didn’t move. After several vain presses, the Queen said “We’d better walk.” Only later did the Head realise that her gown, specially donned for the occasion, had been blocking the sensor.
Contributor: Margaret Budgen aka Dr
Margaret Ashwell OBE
Actually I’m surprised I’m still here to tell the tale. The protocol for receiving any Honour is to advance towards Her Majesty, do a curtsey, have a little chat while she attaches your medal (OBE in my case) onto an existing pin, then to walk backwards and do a second curtsey before you return to your seat. Guess who forgot her second curtsey? I’m lucky not to have been sent to the Tower.
That occasion in 1995 was actually the fourth time I had met the Queen. Before my own investiture, I had been a guest at the investiture of the scientist whose life story I wrote and Allan and I had met (well OK seen) the Queen at two garden parties. I don’t reckon I shall ever meet her again- she is obviously miffed that she has invited me to her pad many times and I’d never even invited her back to mine once.
My meetings with Princess Anne were much more fun but I got into trouble with her too. On one occasion, she asked me “Does coffee lower sperm count?” and I floundered for an answer. On another occasion, I asked her what Zara ate for her school dinners. You could have heard a pin drop in the stony silence. Apparently it’s OK for her to ask me questions about sperm, but I had stepped over the important privacy line and will never know if the answer was a Big Mac!
Contributor: Denise Pearson
I was invited to the Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in July 2001 in appreciation of all the work I did for the Royal British Legion Women’s Section in Collingham, Near Wetherby, Yorkshire.
My Grandmother and my Mother were founder Members of the branch which was formed in 1938 and I became a member in 1968. I was Branch Secretary from 1968 until I left Yorkshire in 2010, I was also Minute Secretary for South & West Yorkshire at their Conferences and Group Secretary of the Branches in the Wetherby Area.
I had a marvellous afternoon at Buckingham Palace and was standing very close to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, when they were speaking to the Headmaster and his wife of Gordensten School, Scotland.
We had a wonderful tea and a lovely walk round the grounds of the Palace listening to the bands which were playing there, one at the top near the terrace and the other at the end of the garden. It is hard to imagine when you see the front of Buckingham Palace that there are 44 acres of grounds which are all beautifully kept. I had a marvellous afternoon and will cherish the memory for ever.
Contribution: Catherine Mallett
Being a teacher at Dersingham Infant School, one of the nearest schools to Sandringham House, I was not totally surprised when it was announced last autumn that the Queen had chosen to visit our school on the sixtieth anniversary of her accession.
On the great day (6th February) it had snowed quite heavily and all the neighbouring schools were closed – but not ours! For once the children were keener to come to school than to play in the snow. There was an atmosphere of great excitement in my Year Two (6 to 7 year olds) classroom, redoubled when a team of sniffer dogs arrived to make sure we were not hatching any plots of a Guy Fawkes variety. The children were not allowed to touch or otherwise fraternise with the dogs but they were very impressed. One boy said later that he thought the dogs were the best bit of the day. The dogs were followed by a number of policemen who searched through everything in the classroom: cupboards, shelves, even the teacher’s handbag! They had mirrors on sticks so they could look underneath things without crawling on the floor.
The children had been listening to the story of The B.F.G. (Big Friendly Giant) by Roald Dahl, in which the Queen features as one of the central characters, so they felt they knew exactly what to expect.
Her Majesty was running about ten minutes late when she arrived, by which time the tension among the children, not to mention the adults, was running very high. But when she walked into the classroom and was introduced by the headteacher her smiles and her genuine warmth and friendliness put us all at our ease straight away. As if by magic, the atmosphere suddenly felt calm, relaxed and very enjoyable. Indeed, one of the children said quite spontaneously, “You look very nice today,” which Her Majesty diplomatically failed to hear.
My job was to show the Queen round the classroom and she took a real interest in all the children’s activities, especially the digital book in which the children had recorded their own voices to go with their own pictures.
I was most impressed when the Queen recognised one of my parent helpers. She had met this lady only once, a few weeks earlier somewhere else in the county when she’d presented a Bible to her son who had won a competition.
Afterwards several children commented that we were very lucky to have such a kind and friendly person to be our
All in all, this was a rather memorable way to spend my last day at work before going on maternity leave.