For almost all of us, the Queen has always been a part of our lives. Now that she is gone, we recall personal memories of her.
I’ve met the Queen. My justification for writing about it here is that our meetings were in the context of my duties as a political correspondent, and that I am the only reporter in her long reign to have “closed the door” on the Queen, getting her to talk even briefly about a topic. of politics.
I covered the CHOGM – the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting – in Vancouver in 1987 when the Queen, as head of the Commonwealth, came for a walk around the media centre.
Remembrance for the Queen at St Paul’s Cathedral – live updates
I asked what the rules were and was told no camera on but please talk to her.
So when he came to the editing booth I was greeting us and then I realized he was stopping for more conversation so I asked about the story I was working on. It takes all of 19 seconds.
AB: Are you looking forward to the summit at all?
HMQ: Yes, it will be very interesting. Probably busy.
AB: Worried about Fiji, Sri Lanka?
HMQ: Well, yes, I think it’s very sad, yes. Very sad.
AB: He [referring to Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney escorting her] believes you should make a further statement on the matter.
HMQ: I know, [nodding and smiling] we’ve all heard it.
AB: Is it true?
HMQ: Ha ha! [turns to leave]
MULRONEY: No comment [smiling]
Read more about the Queen:
The Queen through the years – a lifetime of service in pictures
The Queen and her lifelong passion for animals
The Queen’s life and record reign in numbers
I never meant to get a scoop. I had checked that we were allowed on camera because I thought my bosses at TV-am would like to see the monarch visiting the team.
But the video made headlines around the world and led the BBC and ITV evening news, even though I was working for breakfast TV.
Few were the consequences for my greatness. They didn’t decapitate me.
The Queen’s press secretary said: “We knew it would happen someday. We’re just sorry it was ours.”
I continued to receive invitations – or rather in the Queen’s case “orders” – to attend official events.
You are not allowed to climb on the back at these receptions.
The royal footballers watch carefully to make sure all the guests speak to the queen.
So at the next CHOGM in Malaysia, I found myself on the deck of the royal yacht Britannia confessing my impudence.
“Oh, it was you!” remarked the queen, smiling before moving on to polite conversation.
The invitations kept coming, including an unforgettable post-Diana reception for the British media at Windsor Castle.
Despite Prince Charles and Prince William’s apparent dislike of the media, the royal firm has worked hard to maintain cordial relations with the “opinion makers”.
The Queen did not give interviews but was a welcoming host off the record.
At a similar technology event in London, Kay Burley introduced the Queen to the wonders of the Sky electronic program guide.
The unfortunate John Major was locked in simultaneous negotiations with the EU when the Queen ordered our presence in Edinburgh.
The prime minister’s schedule ruled out cocktail drinks. We were ordered instead to Holyrood Palace for morning coffee.
The early hour didn’t stop Princess Anne from turning on the hacking charm and Prince Philip from making small talk with his characteristic gruffness.
It is fitting that the Queen’s last public duty was a political one and one of her most important duties as Head of State, overseeing the transfer of power between heads of government – the most senior executives to her chairmanship of the board of UK plc.
He invited both Boris Johnson and Liz Truss to Balmoral for the ‘kiss of hands’.
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It must have been an educational experience for both prime ministers.
Boris Johnson because the Queen had lived to see the disgraced exit of the prime minister she first met as a flamboyant young man and who had seduced her with his advice.
Liz Truss for cutting her teeth as a young Lib Dem calling for an end to the monarchy. Elizabeth II lived to put them both in their place.
The Queen could not remember all the people she has met – in the millions by some estimates. But no one ever forgets meeting the queen.