I know I am not the only person around the world, right now, who is mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
All my life, I’ve considered myself a New Elizabethan. She’s been the only monarch I’ve ever remembered – the only monarch my mother could remember. The Queen was the same generation as my grandparents, and swiftly became, in my mind, the grandmother of the nation.
As the world starts to acclimatise to the fact that the Queen Elizabeth II is no longer with us, I wanted to share my favourite memory of her.
I am fortunate enough to be close friends with someone who is the daughter of a royal servant based in Windsor. In 2016, my husband and I were invited to stay with our friend in Windsor, and attend the church service in Windsor that weekend – which happened to be Her Majesty’s 90th birthday.
It was absolutely incredible.
I can’t describe the feeling of being in the room with the Queen. Elizabeth II was a very petite woman but she had such a presence, even in a coat, dress, and shoes that my own grandmother might have worn.
The church service flew by, but that wasn’t the end of the precious moment. We all then went to the church hall and did things that I will never forget.
We watched the Queen plant a tree, and applauded as she jested about the number of trees she’d planted in her 90 years.
We sang her happy birthday, during which she smiled throughout.
We had champagne.
We had birthday cake.
And we waved goodbye as Prince Philip, her beloved husband, drove her back to the castle.
I will never forget that day. It was a privilege to be so close to her, to share in one of her many birthday celebrations, and to honour and respect the only monarch I had ever known.
It’s hard to believe that she’s gone, and it hasn’t sunk in it. I’ll never know another queen of my country, and I’m grateful to her: for her service, her heart for people, and her symbol as a woman who acted out of love and compassion, through leadership, for such a long time.