The church bells tolled, and the guns rang out across London. We as a nation, the Commonwealth and people across the world mourn the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
There is a sense of shock and sadness as we take in the enormity of this historic moment, and we realise what we as a nation have lost.
Now we wait for the state funeral, a time when tears will mingle with a sense of awe, pride, and celebration as we recall the extraordinary life of our universally loved, unique Queen. I hope joy too as I believe Her Majesty, like Prince Philip, chose the time, and place - her beloved Balmoral, to leave this mortal earth.
So many wonderful tributes have been given in which our own thoughts have been voiced. None more so than the moving tribute by King Charles III to his mother, our Queen.
Also, the dignified, touching, and appropriate words spoken by Boris in the chamber of the House of Commons, and the new Prime Minister Liz Truss.
My thoughts turned to my years as a member of the Royal Household during the 70s and 80s. I recall being invited to help host private lunches with Her Majesty and Prince Philip, as well as attending magnificent State Banquets and Diplomatic receptions.
I was privileged to welcome their Royal Highnesses to the South of England Agricultural Show, as Chairman, in 2002 during the Golden Jubilee. It was a huge honour to join Her Majesty in the horse drawn landau, transported from the Royal Mews especially for the occasion.
During the Presidents lunch I mentioned to Prince Philip that I had two versions of my speech. The original and the one edited by Her Majesty’s Private Secretary Sir Robin Janvrin. “Which” I asked, “would you choose?” “Definitely your original”, he replied. So, they got the unedited, non-PC, and ever so slightly political version. My friend Sir Robin gave me a wry but resigned smile.
During The Queen’s tour of the showground, she found time to speak to many members of the public, stall holders, stewards, staff, and council members. I recall her eyes lighting up and her pace slowed as we reached the cattle lines. There she spent extra time, clearly in her element talking to the stockmen whilst admiring their livestock, particularly the Jerseys and Sussex cattle, having herds of her own at Windsor, and a ‘fold’ of Highland cattle at Balmoral.
Their Royal Highnesses last visited East Sussex in 2013. They flew over the Jubilee E near Firle Beacon, enroute to Newhaven, and attended lunch at Harvey’s Brewery, later visiting the YHA South Downs hostel at Beddingham, and The Keep, near Falmer.
Our thoughts and prayers are now with King Charles and his family. Also, those who have cared for and served Her Majesty, many for decades, including those within her immediate household, her farms, the keepers and gillies. Those too who care for her horses, the kennels, her pigeons, and the many others who were in regular contact with her. We must remember the purpose for their daily lives, and the center of their universe has now gently slipped away.
RIP Your Majesty. Thank you – for everything.
God Save the King