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A new era

Although it was inevitable, given her great age, that I would see the passing on of the Crown from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to her eldest son, I was deeply shocked and saddened by her death this week. In typical fashion, Elizabeth had kept going long enough to bid farewell to Boris Johnson and greet new Prime Minister Liz Truss before dying peacefully at Balmoral. She may not have been too reluctant, especially as her deep Christian faith would have convinced her that Prince Philip would be waiting on the other side. I’m convinced that only duty drove her on after losing him. The sight of her tragic little figure sitting hunched and all alone at his funeral will be forever etched in my memory.

I only saw our late Queen twice in the flesh, both times in Leeds when I was very young. Mum and I were in the crowd when she appeared on the balcony of the Civic Hall and again in University Road. I can’t remember what was going on there – maybe a new building being opened – but I do remember Mum, a tiny and normally gentle little lady, defying a policeman to get us a better view. No photographs, unfortunately. 

Watching our new King on the news reminds me of the time I nearly fell over him at the Great Yorkshire Show. It was my closest encounter ever with a member of the Firm and came about because I was trying to avoid the crowds waiting to greet him in the Prince’s Trust area. I sneaked out of the back of one of the marquees and there he was, escorted by bowler-hatted officials who glowered at me. At least they were armed with nothing more lethal than rolled umbrellas and I wasn’t taken into custody!

It’s going to take some time to become accustomed to a new head on our coins and stamps, as well as hearing ‘God Save the King’ for the first time since 1952. No one can predict the length of his reign or what kind of monarch he will be, but I wish Charles III all the best. Vivat Rex!

(The images are taken from one of my oldest books. ‘Royal Progress’, presented by Shell-Mex and B.P. Limited in Coronation Year 1953. Dad ran a petrol station at that time, so I imagine it must have been given to him and he brought it home to share. Subtitled ‘A Pageant of Royal Travel’, it begins with Henry V’s triumphant return from Agincourt in 1415 and has many glorious colour plates.)

11 September, 2022 - Make the first comment on this story

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