Royal Memories Over The Years Shared With My Mum

Over the past 11 days culminating yesterday with the funeral of Her Majesty The Queen there have been many moments of reflection on different periods of my life set against the backdrop of Royal events.  I have only ever known The Queen, God Save The Queen being sung and E R on post boxes and the image of Her Majesty on stamps.  What an extraordinary woman she was - with the advent of more media we came to see the sense of fun she had with cameos with James Bond and of course lovely Paddington Bear.

Like many I have been in tears over the past days with many more shed yesterday as I remained glued to the TV watching every moment of the procession and loving all the anecdotes from people who knew her or had met her on a variety of occasions.  The funeral was even more poignant for me as my mum who always loved anything Royal and never missed viewing it on the TV is now in a nursing home, with her dementia now more advanced and for the first time ever I did not wake to missed calls asking if I had the TV on yet.  

There were no phone calls from me saying mum did you see the Corgis coming out to see them off, and didn’t they all look so broken hearted.  I can imagine my mum standing to the playing of the Anthem as did I of course and marching in time to the drums but there was none of that.  I rang the home to check they would put it on as mum would have loved to see all the coming together of the procession and maybe she did manage to take it in and enjoy it. 

My first memory is the Silver Jubilee back in 1977, I don’t have loads of memories of it but some faded photos in my mum's picture albums and of course the treasured coins celebrating it and my invitation.

Buckingham Palace was always a favourite on trips up to London with my mum - which were regular events when I was very small!

My next clear memory is of the wedding of Charles and Diana - we didn’t attend the street party in our street as we were on holiday in Suffolk with my grandparents but I remember getting a mug.  As we all drove down mum and I hoped there would be a colour TV this year so we could watch in all its glory!  There was and I remember watching it so vividly although later in the day I also remember getting a bit bored and Nanny and I taking our dachshund Christina for a walk and me playing on a swing.  I remember all the bunting and red, white and blue ribbons in my hair.  Piggott Brothers who were a company just a mile or 2 up the road from where we were living in Essex had been the provider of all of it to Royalty which obviously made the village very proud.

At various times throughout my life growing up we would get on the Tube and head up to London often heading to Horse Guards Parade to watch The Changing Of The Guard as a treat.  I remember the panic when Christina went missing in Hyde Park, fortunately we found her as soon as someone had caught her lead and was looking for the owners!

I can remember going up for Trooping The Colour and my mum's friends' sons pushing me and my brother to the front of the crowd on the pretence we were crossing the road so we could see the procession.

There were multiple tripswith mum and my brother to Earls Court to enjoy The Royal Tournament - the naval Gun Carriage Race was always one I remember vividly as I am sure everyone did as it was such high energy with us all supporting our chosen team.

The marching brought back my own drill practice as an officer in training at Sandhurst before leaving to go The RAF which was my true love.  The RAF never did as much drill as the Army but I can still remember the hours of practice that went in before any event - there were always stretcher bearers on the side for the inevitable faint of someone and the stretcher bearers drill was well practised.  I remember being Duty Cadet and the raising and lowering of the flag in the morning and evening. You always shadowed someone when it was the first time so you knew you did it the right way.  

On one occasion The Queen visited Cranwell, I can’t remember why I expect it was another squadrons passing out parade, we went to see her arrive and saying hello to those who had flocked to greet her although I did not get to speak with her she was only a metre away - somewhere I have a picture and if I find it I will post it in this blog.  What struck me the most was how tiny she was and how ordinary she looked like your gran - an ordinary woman with an extraordinary life - which is why we all loved her.   A woman who would drive her Land Rovers over the rough ground on the estates and loved her dogs and horses

Whilst at Cranwell I organised a big fundraising event for Childline and had the pleasure of presenting the cheque to Esther Rantzen - going up to London and there being a military band there too which my mum and I both enjoyed - not me in the pic but the band in question.

I remember vividly when Princess Diana died - my brother ran up the stairs in the morning waking me from sleep calling out Princess Diana is dead - don’t be silly I said but staggered downstairs and we sat shocked in front of the TV.  I only lived in Essex then London was so accessible and I went to see the flowers left and went up for the funeral and listened to it at a point on The Mall with Arthur, a family friend.  So many people and yet it was so quiet - I can well imagine how it felt yesterday.  I would so liked to have been able to pay my respects and although Manchester is not too far about 2.5 hours by train - 6 dogs of which 3 have special needs makes anything more than 12 hour stints away impossible.  My social media feed was awash with people who had been there either just going down to the palace or queuing to pay their respects or for the funeral and I loved reading all their posts and seeing the affection for this amazing 96 year old woman.

My brother and mum actually went to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party when he got presented with his Duke of Edinburgh’s award - my mum absolutely loved it and was immensely proud.

When the Commonwealth Games was held in Manchester in 2002 I was a volunteer at The Aquatic Centre and when Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex & Sophie The Countess of Wessex visited I was picked to meet them.  Such a huge honour and I remember thinking how down to earth Prince Edward was.  

 I don’t remember some of the other Jubilees I think they coincided with either my flying career or medical studies.  I seem to remember being on call for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012 - I have a vague memory of bunting in the hospital.  Many of my colleagues met her as she visited the Manchester Royal Infirmary to visit staff and patients who had been involved in the awful bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester on the 22 May 2017 - on North West news today they were showing her visit to the wards in The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and how she chatted to the children who were injured.

I was at work when the news came through that she was ill- the new computer system had just launched that morning and I remember the consultant saying oh no not today don’t let her die today that will be the final straw.  Then more alerts from BBC News and we carried on with our work whilst feeling very sad.

Last weekend I competed in a CaniX event - I had my flag out, many wore their England shirts and I raced in my Jubilee running tight and at prize-giving we had a 1 minute silence to remember Her Majesty.  

The night before the funeral the Emergency Department had a 1 minute silence as far as we could and for a minute those who could be still were still - I stood in the corridor and felt so glad I was able to observe it.

I wish I had been able to reminisce about all these memories with my mum but instead they are written in this blog.  I hope I did my mum proud, I had my Union Jack flag out and I watched it all religiously pointing out to the dogs the bits mum would have especially liked.

And so a new era arrives for everyone.   I have no doubt King Charles will be a fine king, he has had the best role model ever but it will always be a hard act to follow as how can you follow such a wonderful reign like that.

Thank you for your service Ma’am

God Bless Her Majesty The Queen

God Save The King

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