What’s it like to meet the Queen?

When Radio Times asked readers about meeting the monarch, your memories came fast, funny and poignant...

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I met the Queen many years ago, when she opened a new building for the organisation where my husband and I were employed. At the time of her visit, my job was senior to that of my husband. We stood side by side in the line-up to meet the Queen.

The director introduced my husband to
the Queen and after the exchange of a
few words, my husband said to the Queen, “May I introduce my wife, whose job is more important than mine.” Quick as a flash, the Queen said, “We have the same problem in my family.”

Victoria Matthews; Market Deeping, Licolnshire

Quick as a cabbie

I was on duty with St John Ambulance at a reception on London’s South Bank for the formation of the new London boroughs. When Prince Philip asked, “Where exactly is Waltham Forest?” the Queen answered, “I do believe it is the amalgamation of Walthamstow, Chingford and Leyton.” To which Prince Philip replied, “Of course.”

PD Arnold; Walthamstow, London E17

Stomping Ground

In the late 1960s I attended a polo match at Great Windsor Park in which Prince Charles was playing. The public came out onto the pitch after each session to dig in the divots that the horses had made. As I approached the centre of the pitch I looked up and there was Her Majesty doing the same thing. I was so surprised and said, “Oh, it’s you, Ma’am,” and tried to curtsy in my wellies. She gave me a great big smile and continued on her way. It was a day I will always remember and treasure.

Madeline Neil; by email

Carry on, nurse

I met the Queen in 1955 in the London Hospital, Whitechapel. She was very charming and said, “Good morning nurse” to all of us, and we replied dutifully with a bow and “Ma’am”.

Isabel Whittingham (née Jarvis); by email

One thanks you!

The only time I met the Queen was after the dreadful fire at Windsor Castle. I was part of
a WRVS emergency team called in to help and feed the rescue services. I was standing on the castle green talking to a fireman outside a tent waiting for a delivery of sandwiches, when
I saw a little lady in a green raincoat detach herself from a group of people and walk across the lawn towards us.

“Oh, it’s the Queen!” I said, took my hands out of my pockets, wiped the raindrop from the end of my nose and remembered to curtsy – not an easy thing to do in wellingtons. She asked me how long I had been there and thanked me for coming. I went home thrilled to bits in a rosy glow.

Gillian Reid; Pangbourne, Berkshire

Sri Lanka to Dagenham

On 16 July 2015, the Queen visited Sydney Russell School in Dagenham. I spoke to the Queen about my grandfather as they share the same birthday, and for 25 to 30 years he used to send her cards from Sri Lanka. She recognised him from a picture that I showed her. This was one of the most treasured moments of my life. He died in 1991 without getting the opportunity to meet her. I was proud to fulfill my grandfather’s dreams.

Suvika Kumaravelu; Dagenham, Essex

Reigning wit

In 1961 I was a young British geophysicist working on ground water exploration in the mountains of Baluchistan in Pakistan.

On the day of a reception for the Queen in Karachi I made my way to the State Guest House where, along with hundreds of other guests, we were shepherded under an extensive canvas supported at intervals by vertical poles. It’s ideal for sunny days, but not for rain. As the Queen’s convoy arrived the sky turned very black, with lightning followed by thunder and torrential rain.

Very quickly the horizontal canvas was turned into a series of basins filled with water. The canvas was soon ripped open and everyone underneath was soaked, and the wives of the borough sahibs, who had probably been waiting for many years to meet the Queen, found their mascara running down their faces, and their beautiful dresses and hats ruined.

Later my friends and I found ourselves lining a corridor in the State Guest House as the Queen and her party started moving along.
I’ll never know why, but she suddenly stopped and turned towards me and asked, “And what are you doing in Pakistan?”

I had no better, or more accurate answer than to say, “I am looking for water, Ma’am.”

The Queen’s reaction was immediate, and with a glance out of the window at the torrential rain and a ready smile, she said, “It does not seem very necessary at the moment!”

Derek Morris; Harpenden, Hertfordshire

Bobby dazzlers!

I was a young policeman in Maidstone, Kent, when the Queen visited. My colleague and I hadn’t been assigned to line the route, but in between calls we decided that we had to see Her Majesty. We drove as close to the route as possible, got out and stood at the back of the crowd. As the Queen’s car passed she looked straight at us. It occurred to me that she only ever sees the back of police officers’ heads! My colleague did the only sensible thing in the circumstances and saluted, but for some reason I just waved!

John O’Connor; by email

The love boat

On 9 August 1980 my husband and
I were holidaying on Islay, in the Inner Hebrides, when the Royal Yacht Britannia docked at Port Ellen. The Queen alighted, walked up through the spectators and stopped to ask if we were islanders. I replied that we were on our honeymoon. “What a lovely place to choose,” was her smiling response.

Stella Jocket; Sheffield

Smiling Crown Jewel

I remember as a 14-year-old crying with my friends on hearing the news that the Queen’s father had died and she would become Queen. I idolised her, she was my role model. A real princess and so beautiful.

Many years later, as a head teacher of a poor struggling primary school in Aylesbury, I got
to meet her after we won a community competition and took two children the class voted should go, Rebecca and Oliver. They were thrilled. Rebecca, speaking on our local radio station later, said she had expected to see Her Majesty wearing her crown and jewels, but that when she smiled she “lit the whole place up”.

Maureen van der Lowen-Carpenter; Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

We met, but I can’t recall…

In 1952 when I was about two years old I was in Great Ormond Street Hospital suffering from peritonitis. My poor mum was told throughout that I would not survive. And because I did survive, I was called a “miracle baby”. The Queen, who was Princess Elizabeth then, visited the hospital and came to see me. But I have no recollection at all, being so young!

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Ms Lee Sharpe; Buckhurst Hill, Essex