The Queen has died. The UK will now enter 12 days of national mourning

If you don’t know that Queen Elizabeth II has passed away peacefully at Balmoral, aged 96, the longest-serving UK monarch – and has been succeeded by her eldest son, who becomes King Charles III… well, you do now.

Not being particularly a monarchist, but not being much of a republican either (I can see advantages in having a functioning royal family, in terms of tourism, at the very least), I don’t really know how I feel about it.

Both of their paths crossed mine at various points in my reporting career. I didn’t mind her. I don’t mind the new King, either – although I think he may have more to say than she ever did. He says he won’t “meddle”; well, we’ll see.

I can’t say I met them as such, but I was able to get a feel for their personalities.

The first time I saw Elizabeth II in person was at a service for charities at St Mary Redcliffe Church in Bristol. I was with the press (obviously) in the south entrance and she entered with Prince Philip (the late Duke of Edinburgh) via the north door. They looked like the number “10”.

She caught sight of me. I had a filthy big grin on my face (as usual) so I was probably easy to pick out. I got a radiant royal smile in return. And yes, I felt privileged.

The second – and last – time was in 2002, during the Golden Jubilee celebrations. She visited the Mid Wales village of Dolau by train. I was running a different news website at the time so I popped up to get some pictures (I was hoping to put one of them up alongside this article but wasn’t able to find it).

The crowd was enormous, so it seemed to me that she was well-loved.

The first time I covered anything done by the new King was at a business park in Hartcliffe (Bristol again), where he chatted with a carpenter.

“How do you manage to do all that and keep all your fingers?” the then-prince asked the woodworking gentleman – who promptly lifted up both his hands, revealing the remnants and stumps of numerous fingers, and said: “I haven’t!”

Next time was 1997 (I think) when the Second Severn Crossing was opened. He was walking along the bridge when the military types started firing a 21-gun salute over the side – behind him.

The instant the first volley was set off – and without missing a step – he went straight up into the air.

(I’m sure there was another occasion between this and the next one, but I can’t remember it at the moment.)

Finally, he and his wife – now the Queen Consort – visited the smallest town in England and Wales – Llanwrtyd Wells – some time around 2010 and I covered the event as a freelancer.

He pulled a few pints in a local pub, had a meeting with local businesspeople (behind closed doors), and then visited a local butcher’s shop. I was just casually standing next to the queue outside, chatting and trying to avoid the gaze of the black-suited bodyguards all around.

He stopped and, rather charmingly, asked if he should join the end of the queue (which would have put him next to me). I waved him along, and everyone else did the same.

That’s the limit of my recollections. Have you ever met either the former or the new monarch? Was your experience more revealing about them than mine? If so, feel free to get in touch via the “comment” box.

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10 thoughts on “The Queen has died. The UK will now enter 12 days of national mourning

  1. Zebedee1964

    eotd a 96yr old woman has died, who lived a life of unimaginable privilege and wealth
    HARDLY as if she worried about her leccy/gas bills while struggling to survive on UC and having to go to the food bank! 🤬

  2. Martyn Meacham

    What is one death compared to the thousands that have died at the hands of the ex-queen’s government, through its vile, callous and evil policies? And all the suffering of the ex-queen’s ‘subjects’, which she was so silent about….Nothing will change.

  3. Jeffrey Davies

    Ah Charlie boy was my commander in chief who was liked by all his mother was our greatest person to have lead our nation rip our glorious queen. Long live the king

  4. terry w scales

    Elizabeth was our Queen of duty after WW2….now we need a King who will speak to truth about the future…….

  5. The Toffee

    The idea that the royals bring extra tourism is a load of crap.

    Chester Zoo brings in more tourists than buck house or Windsor castle.

    People come to see the palaces NOT the royals…Well the French haven’t had royalty for almost 240 years and they get more tourists than the UK.

    …And we can’t blame the French getting better weather all the time these days.

  6. El Dee

    She’s going to lie in state in Edinburgh. But unless people travel from all over (which I think they will) I don’t think there will be many Scots going to see her. She nor the monarchy itself was never very popular..

  7. Stu

    Like you, I’m not much of a royalist but….
    As a child in Scotland we would have days off in order to wave as peasants to the Royal Entourage who passed through our town on many occassions.
    Many years later I worked for a Security firm that did all the Royal Shows, we were bascically the cannon fodder who gave Special Branch time to draw their arms should an attack take place.
    I met Princess Diana, Princess Anne, Her Majesty and a host of “hangers on” like MPs and found them all to be polite and discreet with a good sense of humour, but that was their job after all.

  8. David Jones

    Thank you for your honest and upfront sharing of your ambivalent personal feelings, Mike. I’m sure a lot of dyed-in-the-wool Lefties (myself included) can identify with you on that score.

Comments are closed.