I’ve lived about two-thirds of my life outside the UK. It says a lot for Her Majesty that she remained a fixturefester Bestandteilfixture in my life during these years. She was what she was supposed to be – available wherever British citizens took the trouble to find her.
But I first saw the Queen when she drove through our village in Essex, past the alms houseArmenhausalms houses on the village greenDorfangervillage green and past the Norman church. In that same year, our father took us up to London and we stood, packed like upright sardines, by St. Paul’s Cathedral and watched her enter for the Jubilee service.
I never got to say Ma’am, but I was close enough to see her smile
Working as Spotlight travel correspondent I flew into Halifax, Canada, in 2010. There was a German celebrity on board. We thought he must be the reason for our delayed customs clearanceZollabfertigungcustoms clearance and hung around the luggage carousels to muttermurmeln, meckernmuttering darkly. In fact, our arrival to coincidezeitlich zusammenfallencoincided with that of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. So I left my luggage at the hotel and set off immediately for the Lieutenant Governor’s mansionResidenz des Vizegouverneurs von Nova Scotia, KanadaLieutenant Governor’s mansion. And there she was, holding a speech: small, in a yellow dress, like a distant primroseprimel, Schlüsselblumeprimrose. And lastly, in 2015: during her state visit to Germany when she attended her own QBP (Queen’s Birthday Party) at the British ambassadorBotschafter(in)Ambassador’s residence in Berlin. I bought gloves and a hat (required) and practiced saying “Ma’am – to rhyme with Pam” as specified on the protocol sheet. I never got to say Ma’am, but I was close enough to see her smile and lean in to hear a lucky guest’s reply. It all looked so normal. The Queen made monarchy normal – and that’s something I think we’ll all miss.