A lovely lady with a fine sense of duty

A lovely lady with a fine sense of duty

Like many British people I am feeling a deep sense of loss with the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. She had been such a fixture in our lives for so long it felt she would somehow go on forever. She was always there, so calm and reassuring. That's why her death still came as shock even though she had reached the grand age of 96.

Only three months ago this column was celebrating her Platinum Jubilee which was a joyous occasion prompting hundreds of street parties.

Elizabeth regarded her work as the Queen as a serious job and worked tirelessly to the very end. It is a tribute to her that only the day before her death and extremely frail she fulfilled her duties with a warm smile as she greeted Britain's incoming Prime Minister Liz Truss.

My first memories of Queen Elizabeth go back to her coronation in June 1953. I was six years old. She was 27 and went on to reign for the next 70 years, the longest-serving monarch in British history.

Neighbours crammed into our living room to watch the proceedings on our newly acquired 12-inch Bush TV. We had to close the curtains to keep out the daylight. Despite it all being in black and white it felt so colourful. Then came the moment the archbishop placed that enormous crown on her head, prompting a brief hush in our packed living room.

I was too young to take it all in, but it was very exciting and felt a bit like a fairy tale.

I recall in the coming years at our family Christmas gathering, festivities would always temporarily stop at precisely 3pm so we could hear the Queen's Christmas message.

Queen Elizabeth always looked terrific and at peace with herself. The world might be in a complete mess but you could always rely on her to carry on regardless, seemingly unaffected by the ills of modern times.

Tea for two

Even in her later years Queen Elizabeth was such a good sport and always prepared to try things if she felt it would raise spirits in the kingdom. During the recent Jubilee celebration there was that delightful cameo of her taking afternoon tea with Paddington Bear.

There was a lovely scene when the bear offered one of his marmalade sandwiches to Her Majesty. The monarch then revealed that she had her own marmalade sandwich tucked away in her handbag. "I keep mine in here for later," she tells Paddington.

Witnessing her beaming at the bear was a magical moment.

The Paddington Bear cameo was not the first time she had displayed true public spirit despite her advancing years. At the age of 86 she took a surprise role in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. She was seen greeting a rather nervous 007 at Buckingham Palace with a polite "Good evening Mr Bond" after which she escorted Daniel Craig along the red-carpeted corridor flanked by her corgis.

Nobody had expected her appearance and it could have been a total disaster. But thanks to the queen it worked a treat. They did it all in one take too. As director Danny Boyle said at the time: "You don't have to tell her anything twice."

Royal wave

I only saw Queen Elizabeth twice in real life, both fleeting glimpses as she whizzed past in a limousine.

The first occasion was in my home town back in 1957 when she opened an extension of Reading University. We schoolchildren had lined up for hours waving our mini Union Jacks when suddenly the motorcade flashed past. Strangely I can remember she was wearing a yellow hat.

Despite the wait, us 10-year-olds thought she was great -- anyone who contributed to children getting a half-day off school was a true hero.

The second time I saw her was in Bangkok in 1972 when she was here with Prince Philip on a state visit. The motorcade came past the Bangkok Post office on Ratchadamnoen Avenue and I was among the paper's staff who piled out of the office to get a glimpse of her. And that's all it was, a glimpse. But at least I saw her royal wave, which perked me up no end.

McCartney melody

Someone who will be very sad this weekend is former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney. At the time of the coronation he was 10 years old and won a prize in Liverpool for his essay about the event. In his composition he referred to "our lovely young queen" and how she was much appreciated.

Less than 20 years later, in 1969, McCartney wrote a short song entitled "Her Majesty" which appeared as the final track on the Abbey Road album. He expressed his fondness for the queen in the lyrics with "I'd like to tell her I love her a lot but I've got to have a bellyful of wine".

Broken hearts

The affection with which Queen Elizabeth was held was reflected in the first editions of the British newspapers. They all carried a large front page photo of the Queen with simple but poignant headlines. "Our Beloved Queen is Dead" was the message in the Daily Express while the Daily Mirror carried a simple but effective "Thank You".

Perhaps the most emotive was the Daily Mail with "Our Hearts are Broken".


Contact PostScript via email at oldcrutch@hotmail.com

Roger Crutchley

Bangkok Post columnist

A long time popular Bangkok Post columnist. In 1994 he won the Ayumongkol Literary Award. For many years he was Sports Editor at the Bangkok Post.

Email : oldcrutch@gmail.com

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