Today marks a special occasion for the monarchy in Britain: having broken the previous record for Number of Years as Reigning Monarch - said record having belonged to Victoria, her great-great-grandmother - Elizabeth has now become the longest-reigning monarch in British history.
She acceded to the throne the year I was born, so I've always felt a special affinity for her. (Eisenhower became president in 1952. I've always felt a special affinity for him, too; he just didn't stick around as long.)
In May 2012 HRM Elizabeth II came to Warrington (our local big town / small city) to open a community center.
It remains the only time I've seen her "for real."
I don't generally repeat blogs, but this being to my mind a special day and an historic occasion, I hope you don't mind a rerun - two of them, actually, if I can get them to work, as I have pictures and a brief clip.
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May 17 2012 - Days 390 and 391:
Where 'ave you bean?
I've bean to Warrington
To look at the Queen.
What did you there?
I took some pictures
That I want to share!
...plus a handful of 'borrowed' ones.
The other day I was looking through a local website that mentioned the Queen was going to do a stopover in Warrington, to open a new community center in one of the parks. Warrington is our nearest large town - maybe five, six miles away - and it's where we do our shopping. And since we get groceries on Thursdays and the visit was scheduled for today... well, what the hey.
So we gathered up a couple of flags (both The Union Jack and Old Glory, us being an international partnership 'n' all) and toddled along with the other OAPs (old age pensioners) and parents with preschoolers and the kindergarten contingents to see the show.
We found our stations. I wondered if the kids standing near us would be disappointed: after all, there really wouldn't be much to see. They'd been patiently (well, as patient as four- and five-year-olds could be) waiting for almost an hour, as the royal party was running a bit late.* The nursery school's lunch was delayed (according to one of the teachers); a boy said 'Maybe she's late because she had to stop to let the horses have a drink.' Amused me no end.
*'They say' Elizabeth is never late, but always right on time, no matter what time she arrives.
A few of the kids had flags, and we had a couple of spare Brit ones I gave to them. Good kids, as the ones who had flags would let their buddies borrow them for the occasional wave, and when we handed out our two, the ones who didn't have flags never complained, so it all seemed to work out. One little boy asked if he could hold the American flag, 'just for a wave,' so I handed it to him. His friend said 'Oh, what a nice little flag!'
[I would've loved to have taken his picture, but these days, unfortunately, the teachers and chaperones can't allow it. Pity.]
You can see a few of the children in the picture. I suspect the little lad who wanted to see them may have wondered where the horses got to - he was so looking forward to seeing the coach - but I hope the motorcycle made up for it, as they all waved at the police officer; even the adults got in the act.
As the car turned into the driveway, you could just about make out Her Majesty in her bright coral hat:
Himself got the best shot from our side:
And yes, Prince Phillip was along for the ride as well - my picture being just a second behind Himself's:
I did wonder what he might've been saying to his wife!
Of course, as the last police car followed up the party, SOMEone had to take my picture:
Turnabout being fair play, I took his, after I stuck my flag into his collar:
I admit, I don't think the building is especially attractive, being somewhat blocky and nondescript, but that's where all the action was.
That was about as close as we could get, as there were barriers so that only children who were participating in some of the events (sports activities, a chorus, the time capsule, a few other things) and their teachers / parents were 'up front.'
The Queen unveiled a statue to dedicate the opening of the park, took a brief tour of the community center, and the Duke of Edinburgh spaded a bit of earth to help a group of schoolchildren bury a time capsule.
Now for the borrowed shots - I got these from a PR website:
This is a wonderful picture of her:
I don't think she stopped smiling. Of late it seems so many of the news clips and photos show her almost grimacing, as if she's in pain, or looking very drawn and tired. But she looked chipper today. And that color was great on her, IMHO. Not that anyone asked me.
When I first told Himself about this visit and said I would like to go, he said 'This will be the third time I've seen the Queen.'
He was 6 when she ascended to the throne, and at some point after that but before the coronation* she made a tour of Birmingham, where he grew up. He said all the children from his primary school lined the street and waved as she went by (a lucky few got to meet her and present flowers, but alas, he wasn't one of the chosen). He told me 'I swear, she looked right at ME!'
*He remembers but doesn't remember the coronation - it was the first televised royal event. Britain was still strictly rationed, but Mr G, Himself's father, bought the first-ever TV in their family just for the occasion. Memory of the actual telecast was lost in the excitement of A REAL TELEVISION SET, but he remembers all the grown-ups standing and singing for 'God Save the Queen.' Times like this I miss my late father-in-law. I just know he would've been so tickled at my excitement about today.
Sometime around '65, '66, when Himself was enrolled at the University of Birmingham, Elizabeth did another tour of the city and drove by the campus. Once again, he and his schoolmates went out to watch her go past, and wave. And he said, 'I swear, she looked right at ME, again!'
Today? I don't know. I haven't asked him - yet - but it would've been funny if Phillip was saying to her 'You know, I have the feeling I've seen that fellow somewhere before...'
We waited as she completed her visit so we could cheer her in passing on her way out of town - she was off to Liverpool for lunch, so they said. As we were walking out two little girls were in front of us with their classmates. 'Did you see her?' asked the one. A solemn nod: 'Yes, and she looked right at ME!'
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I'm having trouble here. Apparently the video won't load - I've tried it three times, and that's enough. But for what it's worth, you see less than you do in the pictures, except you can see her hand move for a bit of a 'royal wave.'
I think it may still be embedded? working, at any rate, if you go to Day 391:
The clip may be a nonevent, but "real-time" even so.
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Back to a cloudy September day in 2015: there you have it. The two days that are real highlights for My British Life are the day I received my citizenship - and the day the Queen came to Warrington.
'ave a good 'un, Sparklers - carpe diem!