For almost all of us, the Queen has always been part of our lives. Now that she is gone, we recall personal memories of her.
I have met The queen. My reason for writing about this is that our meetings were in the line of duty as a political correspondent, and that I am the only reporter ever in her long reign to “door-knock” the Queen and get her to talk about even briefly a case. of politics.
I covered the CHOGM – Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting – in Vancouver in 1987 when the Queen, as head of the Commonwealth, toured the media centre.
Remembrance service for the Queen held at St Paul’s Cathedral – live updates
I asked what the rules were and was told no camera lights but talk to her.
So when she came to our editing booth I said hello and then realized she was pausing for more conversation so I asked about the story I was working on. It lasts all of 19 seconds.
AB: Are you looking forward to the summit at all?
HMQ: Yes, it will be very interesting. Pretty busy.
AB: Are you 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] believe you have an additional opinion on the topic.
HMQ: I know [nodding and smiling] we’ve all heard that.
AB: Is that true?
HMQ: Ah-hah! [turns to leave]
MULRONEY: No comment [smiling]
Read more about the Queen:
The Queen through the years – a life of service in pictures
The Queen and her lifelong passion for animals
The queen’s life and record-breaking ruler in numbers
I never intended to get a scoop. I had checked that we were allowed to have the camera rolling because I thought my bosses at TV-am would like to see the monarch visit the team.
But the footage made front page news around the world and led the BBC and ITV evening news even though I was working for breakfast TV.
There were few consequences for my majesty. I wasn’t beheaded.
The Queen’s press secretary said: “We knew it would happen one day. We’re just sad it was one of our own.”
I kept getting invitations – or rather in the Queen’s case “commands” – to attend official functions.
Sneaking around the back of these receptions is not allowed.
The royal flunkeys keep a beady eye out to ensure all guests speak to the Queen.
So at the next CHOGM in Malaysia, I found myself on the deck of the royal yacht Britannia and admitted my audacity.
“Oh, it was you!”, remarked the Queen, smiling before moving on to polite small talk.
The invitations kept coming, including to a memorable post-Diana “reset” reception for the British media at Windsor Castle.
Despite the apparent aversion to the media displayed by Prince Charles and Prince William, the royal firm worked hard to maintain a cordial relationship with “opinion makers”.
The Queen did not give interviews, but she was a welcoming off-the-record host.
At a similar tech event in London, Kay Burley introduced the Queen to the wonders of Sky’s electronic program guide.
The unhappy 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 instead ordered to Holyrood Palace for morning coffee.
The early hours of the day didn’t stop Princess Anne from turning on the charm for the hackers, and Prince Philip made small talk with his characteristic bluntness.
Fittingly, the Queen’s last public duty was political and one of her most important functions as head of state was overseeing the transfer of power between heads of government – the senior executives to her chairmanship of UK plc’s board.
She summoned both Boris Johnson and Liz Truss to Balmoral to “kiss hands”.
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It must have been a chastening experience for both Prime Ministers.
Boris Johnson because the Queen had lived to see the ignominious exit of the Prime Minister she first met as a bumpkin young man and who had misled her with his advice.
Liz Truss because she cut her teeth as a young Liberal Democrat calling for an end to the monarchy. Elizabeth II lived to put them both in their place.
The Queen could not possibly remember all the people she has met – in the millions by some estimates. But no one ever forgets meeting the Queen.