It was last night as I was uploading a new post that the news came through that our dear Monarch Elizabeth II had passed away, not a surprise, she was 96 after all despite being the Nation’s favourite granny. She will properly be praised and honoured for her lifetime of dedication to duty in her remarkable role and there will be a full State Funeral to mark her passing.
Against such a background what can I offer and how would that be appropriate on a website geared towards photography ? And yet as I thought it through I realised that setting aside the utterances of the great and the good, it is in the personal that people and events are often best remembered, their qualities truly cherished.
For many later generations to mine, the Queen was “always there” and yet for me, I remember a time when she wasn’t and that is why for me, she was important and covered my journey from a black and white, almost bankrupt post war Britain to the full colour Britain that we live in today. It is because of this I have used a picture of me and my brother Michael on a roundabout in King Geoges Park likely 1950/51 below.
Royalty for Me
I cheerfully confess to being pro monarchist and regardless of who happens to be the particular monarch in question simply because the Constitutional Monarchy works very well in these British Isles particularly in separating the Nation from the hurly burly of partisan politics in the Westminster sand pit. However on a very personal note, for me the Monarchy will always be measured in both my mind and heart by the distance from the kerb in front of the Victoria Memorial to the front gates of Buckingham Palace.
My paternal Grandfather was a Police Inspector who often drew crowd control duties outside Buckingham Palace when Trooping the Colour was on. He was a tall man and favoured wearing the short police cape much loved of Victorian/Edwardian police dramas, it was always useful.
Trooping the Colour
After the main event of actually trooping the colour which takes place on Horse Guards Parade (ground). The troops escort the Sovereign back to to Buck House down the Mall where there is a final march past in front of the main gate of the Palace before the troops return to barracks.
Bearing in mind that this was the 1940/50s and adults would always let children through to the front where they could see what was going on, when our Parents took us and always to the Victoria Memorial, we would wiggle our way to the front. Our Grandfather would always keep an eye out for us, come over and spread his cape for us to sit on as we waited for the parade. I can remember towards the end of his life that King George VI wasn’t fit enough to ride to Horse Guards and instead was driven there in an open carriage along with the Queen mother.
At that stage I hadn’t worked out the difference between a bearskin and a busby so a very excited little boy yelled out to his Mum, “Look Mum it’s King Busby !” much to the amusement of those around.
It must have been a year after King George died that the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth took place and my brother and I were looking forward to going to see it because it was going to be a very big and diverse military parade. But No, we were not going, it would be too crowded but we were promised a special treat on the day…
This treat turned out to be a grapple with alien technology ! One of the ladies who worked with my Mother had a TV, black and white of course but it was a curious device. The screen wasn’t that big and was mounted in an elaborately veneered wooden case but the oddest thing was a magnifying glass over the front of the screen to make the picture look bigger. It was on this that in a crowded front room we got to see the Coronation, it wasn’t an experience that gave me any great enthusiasm for the world of TV.
My life has tracked and played against the backdrop of the reign of Elizabeth II and as the media does, playing photo and video montages on “The Life of Queen Elizabeth II”, I find myself remembering what I was doing in my own life when this or that happened. It goes without saying that we shall all miss her, each in our own way but because she shaped and moulded our constitutional monarchy during her lifetime, in Charles III she has left it in steady and capable hands.