The news of the Queen’s death came through to us just after I had completed yesterday’s blog and of course, this made it a momentous day. The fact that the Commons and the other members of the Royal Family moved with such alacrity made me wonder whether there was a coded message such as ‘London bridge is falling down’ as ‘London Bridge’ is the codename for the event of the Queen’s death and all of its consequeneces. As the Prime Minister was informed at about 4.30pm of the Queen’s demise, we can assume that the Queen herself actually died at about 4.00pm or even earlier. The strained faces of the members of the Royal Family when their limousines conveyed them from Aberdeen Airport to Balmorral indicates that they were probably already appraised of the grim news. I think a whole swirl of emotions presents itself at a time like this. First of all, there is the inevitable sadness which most of the poulation undoubtedly feels. But a second emotion is surely one that recognises the incredible devotion to duty and years of service given by the monarch. After all old people do die and 96 years is a ripe old age (my own mother died at the age of 95 and her death certificate merely read ‘Extreme Old Age’ as cause of death). As I was aged about 7 years old when George VI died, then for all of my adult life I have been familiar with Queen Elizabeth II, her images on our stamps, her cipher on Post Boxes, a national anthem of ‘God Save the Queen’ and so on. But, as of yesterday, we now have King Charles III and it now sounds less unfamiliar than it did yesterday. Late on last night, I indulged myself in watching a facinating programme made by Channel 4 which was entitled someting like, ‘The Queen: Power, Politics and Prime Ministers’ or similar. From this I learned that the Queen quite enjoyed her weekly audience with Harold Wilson, the Labout leader, but relationships with Margaret Thatcher were a lot more strained (‘who was going to be Queen Bee after all?’)According to this programme, the Queen and Thatcher fell out with each quite badly over two issues. The first of these was the Commonwealth and the Commonweath desire to impose sanctions against the Union of South Africe as the UK was the only country to oppose sanctions in order to bring about the downfall of the system of ‘apartheid’ The second source of disagreement was the whole Miners’s dispute of the 1970’s. The Queen apparently did not buy into the rhetoric of ‘the enemy within’ and did not enjoy the sight of watching the members of working class communities in the North and the Midlands quite savaegly beaten in defence of ther jobs. The Queen did recognise the transformation that Margaret Thatcher had wrought on British society and later gave her the appropriate honours and recognition.
Today is the long anticipated day which is our wedding anniversary, now that we have completed 55 years under the yoke. We had various plans for the day and hoped that the weather would not get in the way, which fortunately it did not. The day started with our domestic help arriving on a slightly different day this week and naturally we exchanged our reactions to the Queen’s death with each other. We then went down by car to collect our copy of The Times which, in common with all the other newspapers, had published special supplements commemorating the Queen’s life in pictures. I also bought a copy of the Daily Mirror as I noticed from last night’s TV that they had produced an absolutely stunning profile of the Queen not in full regalia but just in profile with the simple message ‘Thank you’. I thought this to be an example of photo journalism at its very best sand I was pleased to buy this edition for posterity. As we had previously planned, we went down to our usual park bench but taking with us a bottle of prosecco and some cupcakes. We invited any of our acquaintances to help us celebrate and/or assist in a toast to the Queen’ memory and all of this worked as intended. I regaled the dog walkers with the following little story, gleaned from the internet. Apparently, the Queen and her entourage spent a miserable Christmas in Sandringham in 2003 as Priness Anne had taken along with her her English bulldog and this had attacked, and subsequently killed, the eldest of the Queen’s corgis. This had, understandably, put quite a damper on that year’s festivities.
The highlight of the day was when we with our two sets of friends from down the road, we all went out to one of our favourite restaurants where we all had a meal together because, by happy coincidence, all of our wedding anniversries fall within a week of each other. I had bought each of our friends a personalised anniversary cake and we were delighted that the hotel allowed us to take one of these cakes into the restaurant and consume it as our dessert, supplying us with some cream to help it down. One of our friends had so kindly organised a taxi for us there and back so that we could collectively enjoy a little alcohol with our meal to make it all a really enjoyable, and memorable,occasion.