NEXT weekend, the Queen will have been on the throne for an incredible 70 years.
She was a 25-year-old mum of two when her father George VI died on February 6, 1952.
A week tomorrow, she becomes the first British monarch to reach a Platinum Jubilee.
Her Majesty has met thousands of people – in all walks of life, all over the world – over those decades. No one forgets the moment they came face to face with her.
So we asked for your memories of the day YOU met the Queen – and they were wonderful!
Today, in this Jubilee souvenir supplement, readers tell their heartwarming stories of meeting the most famous woman in the world.
‘I remember thinking: What a beautiful face. She’s so amazing’
IRENA GARNER was nervous about meeting the Queen, who was visiting a railway works in April 1966.
She recalls: “I worked in Wolverton Railway Works Milton Keynes when word got round that the Queen was visiting.
“I was in the polishing shop and me and my mate Maureen heard about it so we went to find out if we could see her.”
Irena, now 80, from Paignton, Devon, adds: “She was so beautiful. She still is now but I remember thinking what a beautiful face she had and how amazing she was. I was so excited.
“We’re so lucky to have her. She’s a wonderful woman and an incredible queen. “It’s a day I’ll never forget and I’m so lucky there’s a picture of it.”
We were ordered at RAF lunch not to stare – but it was hard
ROSEMARY GILLIBRAND was chosen to have lunch with the Queen in 1982 at RAF Marham in Norfolk, where her husband Graham was stationed.
Now 80, Rosemary – who still lives in Norfolk – says: “I didn’t sit next to her but I was seated close by.
“We were told not to stare but it was hard not to. I was so nervous when I curtseyed.
“You’re afraid you’ll do something wrong like tripping up, but luckily it went well.
“With the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this year, people do tend to mention her more.
“I’ve talked to people who say they would love to meet her, then I get to say that I have.”
A rail treat for youngsters during visit for a day of train-spotting
JOYCE CATTROLL 81, of New Romney, Kent, was 17 when the Queen came train-spotting in April 1957.
Her daughter Venetia Cattroll, 51, says: “The Queen visited the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.
“She was at New Romney Station with Prince Philip and a young Prince Charles and Princess Anne. It was on the next street to where Mum was living as a teenager.
“She heard the Queen was visiting and ran round and managed to get there in time.
“She was with her best friend at the time, Greta Green. Mum was so close when they all walked by.”
My young daughter said: ‘She’s got Nora Batty stockings on!’
ALAN FULCHER and his young family met Her Majesty when his daughter looked down at the Queen’s legs and said: “She’s got Nora Batty’s stockings on!”
He was serving with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers when the invite came to meet the Queen at Windsor in 1983.
Alan, 68, from Washington, Tyne and Wear, says: “The Queen was making an informal visit to the regiment to bid farewell as we were shipping off to Germany.
“We were told to assemble in our family groups in the mess and Her Majesty would spend a few minutes chatting to each family.
“Ours was first and my younger daughter Lindsay, who was six, was chosen to give the Queen a bouquet.
“We were exchanging pleasantries when all of a sudden, Lindsay said loudly, ‘Mummy, the Queen’s got Nora Batty stockings on’.
“All of us looked down, as you would if someone said that, and right enough, Her Majesty had a wardrobe malfunction and one of her stockings was crumpled down, just like the character on Last Of The Summer Wine.
“Her private secretary, Sir Robert Fellowes, stifled laughter. The Queen seemed to find the whole thing quite amusing, to be honest.”
Suki sniffed her handbag and she made a big fuss of the dog
RACHEL DRISCOLL was working at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in March 2015 when the Queen and Prince Philip arrived.
She and her own rescue dog, German shepherd Suki, below, were part of a guard of honour to greet the royals for their visit.
Rachel, 42, from Dartford Kent, says: “All the dogs were on their best behaviour and then as the Queen was walking by, my dog Suki decided to approach and sniff her handbag.
“The Queen made a fuss of Suki, stroking her on the head. It was such a surreal moment.
“Her Majesty told me she thought Suki was a lovely dog but the thing I’ll always remember most is her beautiful smile.
“Prince Philip was walking behind the Queen and laughing at the whole episode as Suki was the only dog brave enough to approach the Queen.”
The picture of our meeting hangs proudly in my hallway
SCOT Ian Turner was a 12-year-old schoolboy when he not only met but spoke to the Queen during a Silver Jubilee visit to Perth in 1977.
Ian, now 57, says: “I was a kid in care and we were all given a half day off to go into the city and line the streets.
“I had a flag and was waving it and she came over to me to say hello. She asked if we’d been given the whole day off school, but I told her it was only a half day.
“She smiled and moved on. It was such an honour and it’s always meant so much to me that I’ve met her.
“I’m hoping to plan a street party for this Jubilee. The picture of our meeting hangs proudly in my hallway.”
Chat on Canada tour made my Grandad so proud
WILLIAM GIBSON remembers his late grandad often talking about how he met Her Majesty on her 1959 whistle-stop tour of Canada.
Grandad Cyril England died in 1972, aged 72. He was born in Solihull, West Mids, before his family emigrated to Canada when he was five.
He never forgot the moment when, as a local civic leader, he talked to the Queen as she visited the province of Saskatchewan.
William says: “He was so proud of the moment his entire life. He always kept a picture of the event on his sideboard.”
Olympics honour ‘just a warm-up’
LUCKY Isabel Jackson was 12 and chosen as one of just a dozen of the 8,000 London 2012 Olympic torch-bearers to meet the Queen shortly before the Games started.
And her friends did not believe her when she told them about her brush with royalty.
Isabel says: “My PE teacher at school put me forward. I was in every sports team going which is why she applied but I still don’t know why I was chosen to meet the Queen.
“There were 8,000 torch bearers — one for each mile of the torch relay — and only 12 got to meet her. It was honour enough running with the torch, let alone being selected to meet royalty.”
Isabel’s mum Dawn, 51, a booking coordinator for the NHS, paid £250 to keep the torch Isabel ran with and was there the day her daughter met the monarch.
Dawn recalls: “Izzy wasn’t nervous at all, though I was — but typically she took everything in her stride.”
While the Olympic torches now sell for £4,000, Isabel is not about to sell hers and will display it proudly when she buys her first home.
The 22-year-old psychology student from Aylesbury, Bucks, says: “The whole thing was so incredible. When I started uni and was making new friends, when I said I’d met the Queen none of them believed me.
” I’d be nervous about meeting her now, but back then I was just excited — it was a day off school!
“I remember telling Mum the Queen had the most beautiful lipstick that completely matched the outfit she was wearing.
“She was a lot smaller than I thought she’d be too. I was pretty tall for 12 but she seemed really petite. It was a once-in-a-lifetime honour to run — and to be chosen to meet Her Majesty too was the icing on the cake.”
‘We accidentally bumped into each other…she apologised!’
POLICE dog handler George Beadling and his German shepherd Tonka were protecting the Queen and Prince Philip when they walked round a corner and crashed into the monarch.
George, now 81, of Seaham, Co Durham, says: “Before I could even utter a word of apology, it was the Queen who apologised to me.
“She instantly said she was sorry – she hadn’t been looking where she was going.
“Neither one of us was at fault. It was just an accident. We both bumped into each other, but the fact she apologised first has stayed with me ever since.”
George and Tonka were patrolling Luton Hoo estate, Beds, where the Queen and Prince Philip were staying in 1985.
He says: “I asked if I could help her. She said not to worry.”
I bought a hat – but I was the only woman wearing one
SALES office manager EILEEN HARRISON went to Buckingham Palace in 1987 to pick up the Queen’s award for export achievement on behalf of Sheffield firm Richardson.
She says: “We developed the first knife that sharpened as you cut things.
“It was the second time we’d won and I was asked to go as part of a team to accept it.”
Eileen, 63, from Sheffield, adds: “The company gave me some money to go and buy an outfit. I thought I needed a hat too but when we arrived I was the only woman in a hat.
“I was so nervous. There were trays of food and drink going around – whisky and gin, so we all soon calmed down.
“I curtsied when I met Her Majesty and shook her hand. She was much smaller than I thought she’d be.
“Meeting the Queen remains one of the fondest memories I have. It was an honour.”
I went from kid raised in care to chatting with her at mansion
MARILYNN DOMLEO, 72, had a difficult childhood growing up in care in Yorkshire before moving to Canada.
She eventually became housekeeper for the Premier of Quebec, Robert Bourassa, who the Queen visited in 1987.
She says: “Mr Bourassa told the Queen all about me and she asked to meet me. We chatted for 15 minutes – I’m still surprised I managed to string sentences together.
“She asked me all about how I ended up in Canada and what life had been like for me when I was younger back in the UK.
“There was a photographer who took lots of pictures of us chatting too. A few weeks after the Queen returned home, a beautiful ivory photo album appeared in the post. It was addressed to me from Buckingham Palace.
“Her Majesty had printed all the pictures of our meeting and had them put into an album for me. I was speechless, I think I cried a bit too. It was so lovely and thoughtful and overwhelming.”
Teenage trooper made her smile
JOHN KENNEDY McMILLAN, 71, was an 18-year-old in the 1st Battalion Scots Guards when the Queen visited his Redford Barracks in Edinburgh in 1968.
His daughter Tammie McMillan, of Edinburgh, says of his chat with Her Maj: “Dad told her it was like a home from home and called her Ma’am which made her smile. Dad treasured the opportunity.”
Friendly words put me at ease
DAVID HUTCHINSON was a training instructor at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey when the Queen visited in the Sixties.
Now 81, and living in Desford, Leics, he says: “The Queen made me feel very relaxed.
“I found it very rewarding that she actually spoke to me like a relative. It’s an occasion I shall never forget.”
‘I wish I could recall what I said. . .I was overwhelmed’
ANNE PLUMMER met the Queen in 1985 as the monarch visited Lowestoft in Suffolk, near her home.
Her late husband Patrick chaired the district council at the time. She says: “I was taught how to curtsey.
“We had lunch at the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club and I presented the Queen with a piece of Lowestoft porcelain.”
Anne, 81, from Beccles, adds: “I wish I could remember what I said to her, or even what she said to me, but I was quite overwhelmed.”
A dream come true for me after 30 years waving from afar
FOR 30 years Sharon Libby had waved at the Queen in crowds.
She finally spoke to her in 2016 at a Windsor walkabout to mark Her Majesty’s 90th birthday.
Sharon, 58, of Waterlooville, Hants, says: “I muttered something along the lines of, ‘Happy birthday Ma’am, I hope you manage to have a well-earned rest when the celebrations are over’. She smiled.
“I met her again in 2017 at the Chichester Festival Theatre. I told her how lovely it was to see her on the south coast of England.
“She told me how nice it was to be here. Meeting Her Majesty not once but twice is a dream come true.”
‘It brought tears to our eyes as proud parents’
LITTLE Libby Miller was only six when she won a prize she will remember for the rest of her life: The chance to meet the Queen.
Her dad Andrew, 36, works at the Royal British Legion Industries retirement village in Aylesford, Kent, where the Queen was due to visit in November 2019, to bury a time capsule.
All the charity’s workers were asked to put their children’s names into a draw. The winner would present the Queen with a posy of flowers.
Mum Sarah says: “Libby was extremely lucky and won. She was so excited and at the age of just six she understood what an incredible opportunity this would be.
“She practised her curtsey and had a day shopping with me, looking for the perfect coat. Libby was also lucky to have a school that granted her the day off for such a special occasion.
“When the day arrived I took Libby to the RBLI village where she was interviewed by newspapers and filmed by the news crews, loving every minute.
“You could see how nervous she looked when she first saw the Queen but when the time came she confidently gave a curtsey and said ‘Your Majesty’ while handing over the posy.
“The moment brought tears to our eyes as very proud parents. Even after a very strange two years with Covid, Libby continues to talk about that incredible day.”
At home in Dartford, Kent, Libby had a new photo taken by HOAR’s Royal photographer Arthur Edwards.
Libby told Arthur: “Meeting the Queen was the best day of my life. I’d love to do it again but I know she is very busy.
“She was a lovely lady and I liked her purple outfit. It made me so happy but it made me cry when she got in the car.
“I couldn’t believe what had just happened. There were cameras everywhere and I felt really special.
“I still talk about it at school and people cannot believe it. I feel very lucky.”
‘She worried about us as hostages’
FOR ten days, kidnapped soldier Corporal Karl Roberts was starved, interrogated and screamed at by his captors who shoved loaded guns in his face.
But he admits that he was more terrified of meeting the Queen following his ordeal.
In May 1995, Karl was one of 33 soldiers from the 1st Battalion the Royal Welch Regiment who were kidnapped during a peace-keeping mission in Goradze, east Bosnia.
The British soldiers were protecting the town’s Muslim population when 40 Serbs armed with grenade launchers and anti-tank weapons threatened to take over the Army observation post.
As the soldier in charge, Karl was told any resistance would be crushed and the soldiers were taken hostage.
Karl, who was kept in solitary, says: “The treatment was tough, I was starved, interrogated, screamed at. I had weapons pointed at me all hours of the day and night. I barely slept.”
On the tenth day, Karl was blindfolded, bundled into the back of a van and driven around for what seemed like hours as other hostages from the regiment were hurled in before finally being released.
Karl, of Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, says: “I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a hugely traumatic ten days.”
The following May, Karl was back at his barracks in Chepstow when he learned the Queen would be visiting and wanted to meet the men who had been taken hostage.
He says: “I was told I’d have a chat with her about what we had been through. When you sign up to serve Queen and country, you don’t think you’ll actually get to meet her.
“I was so nervous, more than when I was being held in solitary and having a gun pointed at me every day.”
But Karl, who later became a captain, says: “Almost as soon as we started chatting, the nerves went away.
“Her Majesty told me she had kept a close eye on what had been happening to us and how it had been. She asked me how I’d been since release. She was really interested in all I had to say.”
Karl was pictured meeting the Queen with his then four-year-old sister Hannah. Now 30, Hannah says: “She looked kind and motherly.
“I can’t believe my luck that I got to meet her.”
It felt like time stood still when she asked me what I did. It was humbling
CANADIAN Melissa Kargiannakis, 31, who now lives in San Francisco, received a Queen’s Young Leaders Award in 2015 for her work mentoring schoolchildren.
She says: “I was one of 60 young people from across the Commonwealth selected to receive the award.
“We were told that Her Majesty wouldn’t speak to us. Much to my surprise, she asked me what I did. I was so nervous I almost had a heart attack. It felt impossible to form a sentence.
“Though the video I have shows it was only a second or two, it felt like time stood still. It was so humbling and overwhelming. I was in awe.”
Mum practised her curtsey every day before she presented her bouquet
SUSAN BAKER was chosen to present a bouquet to Her Majesty in 1957.
Her daughter Jean Hart says: “Mum grew up in a care home in Guernsey because her own mum died of tuberculosis aged about 40, so my mum and her 11 brothers and sisters went into care.
“She was only 12, but a couple of months before the visit she was chosen to present the bouquet. Every day she practised her walking and curtseying.
“It was such an honour for her. All the kids in the home were presented with a little book marking the visit.
“Mum’s book means the world to her. She said the Queen was absolutely beautiful in real life.”
On board aircraft carrier she was suddenly next to me. I thought: ‘Oh heck!’
SUSAN DYER, 66, of Widnes, Cheshire, met Her Majesty on board HMS Queen Elizabeth during a ceremony to commission the aircraft carrier in 2017.
She says: “My son Neal was a serving petty officer and I was proudly watching him. The next thing, the Queen was standing at the side of me.
“I thought, ‘Oh heck!’ So I said hello and she said hello and asked me if I was here with my family and friends.
“I told her she’d just been talking to my son. She said, ‘You must be very proud’, then she moved on.
“I was so happy and even today I still tell everyone about the day I met the Queen.”
Hello, I’m Miss British Nylon…
MOLLY McINNES BAKER had not long been crowned Miss Bri-Nylon 1963 when she was picked to present a bouquet to Her Majesty in South Wales.
She says: “I worked for British Nylon’s research department in Gloucester, but the Queen was visiting the Pontypool factory, after it had had a spruce-up.
“I was sent to London for courtship lessons and dress fittings before the occasion of meeting the Queen.
“It was so exciting. I was 18 and a country girl.
“Back then dresses were satin and you had shoes dyed to match, so that’s what I did.”
Molly, now 77, of Wimborne in Dorset, recalls: “I don’t remember being nervous, just excited. But it’s only since then it’s dawned on me what a big occasion it was.
“The Queen asked me what department I worked in and if I enjoyed it. I remember thinking I just wanted to talk about horses because I was horse-mad, too.
“I was in awe of how beautiful she was.
“The minute we started talking everything around us seemed to disappear. She has a way of making you feel at ease and like you’re the most important person.
“She has the most beautiful skin and smile, too – you only have to see her smile when watching the horses.
“I’m so fortunate I got to meet her when I was just 18. It’s a memory I’ve treasured.”
She came into the stable. I was so nervous I said: ‘Good morning, Sir’
IN the Sixties Derek Searle was a stable lad for racehorse owner Peter Cazalet, who trained some of the royal horses.
He says: “When the Queen came into the stables the rules were very simple – you got on with what you were doing and didn’t speak to her unless she spoke to you.
“I remember one morning she came in and said, ‘Good morning’ to me.
“I was so nervous but managed to reply, ‘Good morning’, but accidentally called her Sir instead of Ma’am.”
Derek, 74, of Colchester, Essex, adds: “She smiled and asked me a few more questions about the horses, but all I could think of was my mistake.”
Mum always told me what beautiful eyes she had. It meant the world
ROMA Flanagan was a foreign student at the University of Edinburgh when she was picked to meet the then- Princess Elizabeth in 1949.
Roma, who died in 2012 aged 85, never forgot that day.
Her daughter, Yvonne Tennant, 60, of Cannock, Staffs, says: “She never knew why she was chosen.
“But she went to the University of Punjab during the Second World War and moving from there to Scotland was a life-changing move. Mum always told me what beautiful eyes the Princess had.
“It meant the world to her, getting to meet Princess Elizabeth. She remembered it fondly all her life.”
My brother‘s royal award for his factory is such a fond memory
ALAN BRENTNALL was invited to a reception hosted by Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace in 2017.
Today the 66-year-old, from Westwood, Notts, is no longer able to speak due to motor neurone disease.
But his brother John, 61, says: “At the time Alan was working in a factory that produced glues and paints.
“They won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise and Alan was selected to receive it, as he was the manager at the factory.
“Her Majesty asked him all about the factory and whether he was enjoying the day so far.
“It meant so much to him at the time and is still a fond memory.”
Honoured to get her first medal
By CLARE O’REILLY
BRAVE Arthur Hilton is believed to be the first person in the Queen’s reign to win the George Medal for valour.
He was 18 and had been in the Army for four months when he risked his life to save his comrades.
In December 1953, Private Hilton was on National Service in Germany when in dense fog a vehicle his party were travelling in on exercise flipped and fell from a bridge into a river.
Arthur, now 86, says: “I can’t swim but managed to surface, and was the only one.
“I dived down and managed to rescue two of the lads — my commanding officer and the driver. I couldn’t get the third despite several tries.”
Arthur dragged both men on to the roof of the sinking vehicle then helped them on to the bridge. He says: “It was then the cold struck. I was shaking. The three of us were taken to hospital and stayed in overnight before we went back to base.”
In 1954 Arthur, who served with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, took his parents with him to Buckingham Palace to receive his medal from the Queen.
In tears, he recalls: “She said, ‘I and the country are very proud of you’. I received my medal less than a year after the Coronation. I love my wife and family but it’s one of the things I’m most proud of.”
After National Service he returned home to Dudley, West Mids, where he worked as a hospital porter and brought up two sons with wife Margaret.
He says of the men he saved: “We never kept in touch. I hope they went on to have full and happy lives.”
Huge honour to have helped organise Games baton relay
ATHLETICS official Norman Simons, who was a timekeeper at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, was tasked with organising the baton relay for the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1986.
Norman’s son Alan, 66, from Sudbury Hill in North West London, says: “He was away a lot that year, including taking the baton to Holyrood House in Edinburgh and presenting it to Her Majesty.”
Norman was also involved in the time-keeping for Roger Bannister’s historic run to break the four-minute mile in 1954.
Alan added: “Dad died in 2014, aged 88, but it remained a huge honour to have been involved in the Games and to have met Her Majesty.”
She handed ME a trophy for a horse which SHE owned
BRUCE SMITH was a groom with the prison service in 1986 when he met Her Majesty at the Royal Norfolk Show.
Bruce, 76, of Felixstowe, Suffolk, says: “I was showing a Suffolk mare and foal.
“I was lucky enough to win the overall championship and the Queen was presenting the cups.
“When it was my turn she presented the cup and said, ‘That’s a nice horse, who owns it?’ I replied, ‘Technically speaking, Ma’am, you do’.
“She stood back and said, ‘Why is that?’ I said, ‘They belong to Her Majesty’s Prisons so I assume the horses belong to you too’. She smiled and said, ‘I suppose they must do’.”
She exuded warmth and was not one bit afraid of my dog
IAN WINTLE was serving in the Royal Australian Air Force when the Queen visited Darwin in the Northern Territory in 1977.
He says: “At the end of the Queen’s visit, as she was about to board her aircraft which I was guarding with my police dog Schatten, she left her entourage and walked over to me.
“She was most interested in Schatten, who was an unusual pure black German shepherd.
Ian, 76, of Brisbane, Queensland, recalls: “She exuded kindness and warmth, and was not one bit afraid of my dog.
“She would have spent a good five minutes talking to me. She was so lovely. It’s a really treasured memory.”
A couple asked to join our tea break. When they left, Mum said: ‘Do you know who that was?!’
PATSY ANN WEEDON was at the Royal Windsor Horse Show with mum Sylvia and dad Les, a horsebox driver, in 1975 aged 11.
She says: “We’d just parked up and the ponies were out being exercised.
“We were sat on the tailgate of the horsebox having a cup of tea when a man and a lady stopped and asked if they could join us.
“They were dressed normally, the man in a flat cap, the lady in a scarf.
“They sat down, had tea with us and talked for a while. They asked about the horses and asked me if I rode.
“After a while they thanked us and left. It was only after they had gone that my mum said, ‘Do you know who that was?’ I had no idea but I was staggered when she told me it was the Queen and Prince Philip.”
Patsy, 57, of Hemel Hempstead, Herts, adds: “We didn’t get any pictures but it’s stayed in my memory.
“Dad died of Covid in 2020 but it remained a lovely memory throughout his life. The royal couple were so natural and friendly.”
Sketch gift of late husband was such a lovely honour
JOAN McCARTHY was presented with a sketch of her late husband Des by the Queen in 1999.
Daughter Linda Husher, 61, says: “When Dad retired he got a job as a car parking attendant at the Guards Polo Ground in Windsor near where we lived.
“When he passed away in 1999 at 76, the club got a caricature done, to be presented to Mum by the Queen during a match.
“Mum had no idea but it meant the world to her. The fact that it was presented by the Queen was such a lovely honour for her.
“She missed Dad terribly but the picture hung in her hallway until she died in July last year, aged 99.”
Mum has Alzheimer’s but she still smiles at pic
MARGARET ROSS won a Queen’s Award in 2012 for her work with a support group for the elderly and disabled.
That day the 88-year-old from Glasgow was with daughter Annette Gillan.
Annette, 51, says: “We were invited to a reception and the Queen came over and shook Mum’s hand.
Sadly, Mum has Alzheimer’s now so doesn’t remember the meeting. But it meant so much and she always smiles if someone shows her the picture.”
When she came to my school I thought: She looks just like my grandmother!
CARER Harry Hayfield met Her Majesty not once but twice.
Harry, 47, from Ceredigion, Mid Wales, says: “I’m born on the last day of August.
So when the Queen visited our school, Welshpool High, in 1986, just by happenchance I was chosen to be part of the reception.
“I didn’t get to speak to her but remember thinking at the time she looked just like my grandmother.
“The second time was during the Royal Show in Stoneleigh, Warwicks, in 2002. I was helping my grandmother who was selling art, and every day I’d head to the office to see the attendance figures.
“I was there one morning when I saw the itinerary for the day and saw Her Majesty was visiting. I made sure I was in the right place at the right time to bow and wish her a happy Golden Jubilee.
“I’m such a fan. She’s an incredible monarch and we’re so fortunate to have her. It’s been a real honour to get to see her not once but twice in my life and I sincerely hope I’ll get to meet her again one day.”
She walked in . . . right into a toddler tantrum!
HORTENSE OATES was working as a nursery nurse in Bristol when the Queen came to visit in July 1996.
And she was amazed at Her Majesty’s composure when one of the children threw a tearful tantrum at the Abbey Wood Ministry of Defence buildings.
Hortense, from Herne Hill, South London says: “The visit was so exciting. I was looking after the two to three-year-olds when Her Majesty walked in smiling.
“One little girl called Catherine got upset straight away. I think she found it a bit overwhelming and went into a full crying meltdown.
“The Queen was so calm and understanding, though. I remember her trying to soothe Catherine a bit but nothing worked.
“It was all a bit of a blur – but I do remember what a lovely warm smile the Queen had.”
My Fleur fell asleep waiting …and squashed her bouquet
LITTLE Fleur Davies presented the Queen with a single rose – after squashing the bouquet she had been waiting to present.
Mum Louise, 38, had taken Fleur, four, and her six-year-old sister Tansie to join crowds waiting to see Her Majesty outside Britwell Library near Slough, Berks, in April 2013.
The girls were thrilled when royal security picked them out to present their floral gifts.
But Louise, of Burnham, Bucks, says: “It was freezing so they sat waiting in camping chairs for hours, wrapped up in blankets.
“It proved a bit too much for little Fleur, who fell asleep. When she woke, we found she had squashed her bouquet, which is why she is pictured handing the Queen a single rose. But Her Majesty smiled and thanked them both.”
Our double take…500ft up at the top of Blackpool Tower
DAVE HULME met the Queen 500ft above the ground – at the top of Blackpool Tower.
He was the Lancashire landmark’s chief rigger when she visited the attraction, right, for its 100th anniversary in 1994.
Dave, 63, now a college lecturer, says: “Everything was planned to take a picture of the Queen meeting some of the maintenance team at the top of the tower. But things didn’t exactly go to plan.
“As the lift opened, the royal party emerged and the Queen and Prince Philip spoke to all of us and shook hands. Unfortunately though, the photographers were round the corner and missed the whole thing.
“We hastily lined up as they went back into the lift with a bemused royal party going past us for shots again.”
Our brief chat was highlight of my Royal Mail career
ROYAL Mail worker Chris Powell, 65, of Sudbury in Suffolk, was invited to mark Commonwealth Day at Marlborough House in central London in 2015.
He says of meeting Her Majesty: “That day remains the biggest highlight of my career.
“The chat was brief – which I was glad for because I was nervous. We were told to form two lines, as the Queen would walk along one line and the Duke of Edinburgh the other.
“I was informally told the Queen would take the line to her right, so I made sure that I was in that line.
“Meeting our monarch was amazing. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
I told her my kids would love to play hide and seek in the palace
KATH SHAYLER, 69, and husband Roy, 68, were awarded MBEs by the Queen at Buckingham Palace in March 2016 for their work fostering more than 150 children.
She says: “The palace was unbelievable, so rich and splendid.
“I remember being told, ‘Never turn your back on the Queen and when she shakes your hand, that’s a sign for you to leave’.”
Kath, from Weymouth in Dorset, says: “I told her the children would love it here, playing hide and seek in the huge corridors, which made her laugh.
“Our children and foster children were so proud of us. It’s a day we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.”
Dad’s long, nervous walk to present gift at Balmoral
AT 16, STEWART SPENCE was the youngest member of the 3rd Battalion
Gordon Highlanders when he was chosen to present a gift to the Queen in 1961.
Stewart, now 77 of Insch, Aberdeenshire, was in the TA when he was sent to Balmoral.
His daughter Julie Spence says: “My dad walked up a very long red carpet to present the Queen with a box of silver menu stands.
“He was so excited and nervous.
“The Queen asked him where he worked. He worked at the Glenfiddich whisky factory and Her Majesty told him she knew all about Glenfiddich.
“It was such a memorable day for my family.”
So proud to shake hands on MBE day
SUSAN KINSELLA, 67, of Southall, West London, was awarded an MBE by the Queen for services to education in June 2004.
She had dedicated more than 30 years to the childcare profession. Susan says: “I felt very proud to receive such an honour and shake hands with her.
“My family were present to witness this special moment which we will never forget. It was very exciting.”
I was last child pulled from Aberfan…she remembered
NEARLY half a century had passed since the Aberfan colliery disaster when survivor Jeff Edwards met the Queen.
As Jeff stood with his mum Tess outside the royal apartments at Buckingham Palace, the Queen looked at him and said: “You’re the boy with the white hair.”
Eight-year-old Jeff was the last child to be pulled out alive when an avalanche of coal slurry engulfed the village school near Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, in October 1966, killing 116 of his friends.
Pictures of Jeff with his shock of blond hair being carried from the wreckage by a local greengrocer were published all over the world.
Just before Christmas 2010, former accountant Jeff, by then aged 52, was to be presented to the Queen at Buckingham Palace for his charity work with young people in Aberfan.
He says: “When we got there, the Queen’s lady-in-waiting, the Duchess of Grafton asked, ‘Where are you from?’
“When I told her ‘Aberfan’ she said, ‘Her Majesty would like to meet you last.
“Come with me and I will put you at the end of the line just before the Queen goes back into the Royal Apartments’.
“Shortly afterwards the Duchess introduced me to her. Straight away the Queen said, ‘Oh, you’re the young lad with the white hair’. She’d remembered the picture of me being carried out by Tom Harding, the Aberfan greengrocer.
“By the time I was pulled out of the school, all the ambulances had gone so I was taken to hospital in the back of a grocer’s van with the cabbages.
“She has met thousands upon thousands of people in her lifetime but for her to remember somebody who came out a disaster with white hair was quite emotional.”
Jeff was extremely proud when the Queen told his mother Tess: “You are very lucky to have your son survive and how he has gone on to do good things.”
Visibly shocked, the Queen visited Aberfan nine days after the spoil heap engulfed the village, killing 144 people.
Jeff did not see the Queen on her visit to the village soon afterwards because he had been sent to his grandparents’ house.
His schoolfriend Gareth Jones was one of the few children there when the Queen arrived to witness the effects of Britain’s worst mining-related disaster.
It is said to be the monarch’s biggest regret that she did not visit Aberfan immediately to support grieving families.
But she did send Prince Philip the day after the disaster and he was photographed talking to young Gareth.
Gareth, now 62, says: “I’ll never forget it — the Duke was walking along the street and was suddenly drawn to the front of our house where I was standing with my sister Janice and dad Walter.
“He asked me, ‘Are you one of the survivors?’ I said, ‘Yes, I am sir’. I was just six so to me he was the Queen’s husband and that meant he was King.
“He came to me and my sister because there were no other children around in the village. So many were lost that day.
“The day the Queen first came to Aberfan she did a walkabout — I was one of the few children there but I didn’t actually get to meet her.”
The Queen has been criticised for not going to the village sooner, but Gareth says: “I don’t blame her for that — to me she held back as a mark of respect to the families who lost children.
“But she did come and has been back many times. She’s never forgotten Aberfan and I’d like to thank her for that.”
She laughed at Press corps lost in a cloud of gunsmoke
By CHARLES RAE, former Sun Royal Correspondent
MY first meeting – more a non-meeting – with the Queen was in Germany in 1992 on an official state visit.
Britain had been forced to quit the European Exchange Rate Mechanism and German banks were refusing to convert our Pounds into Deutsche Marks.
An experienced royal reporter told me the protocol: Only shake her hand if she extends it, NEVER start the conversation.
As she got to us, my mentor stuck his arm forward and said: “Do you know, Ma’am, you can’t change the Pound in this country?”
“With that, her minder ushered her off and she bypassed the rest of us.
In South Africa in 1999, she was taking a salute with president Thabo Mbeki.
When the cannons fired, the whole Press corps was engulfed by thick smoke, which made it impossible to see.
A few hours later at a reception, the Queen asked if we enjoyed the gun salute and laughed: “I had to smile when they went off . . . it was nice to see you all disappear for once. I never knew it was that easy to get rid of you.”
In May 2014, I was with Harry Arnold, ex-Sun Royal Correspondent, as we marked 150 years of the Journalists’ Charity.
The Queen said what an achievement it was and I told her: “Yes, it is almost as old as Harry here.” She burst out laughing and, using 1970s comic Dick Emery’s famous phrase, she said: “You are awful
I was lost and asked her: ‘Have you seen my mum?’
SIMON ERITH was just seven when he got separated from his mother in crowds as the Queen visited Ipswich in 1977.
Suddenly, the young lad found himself shaking hands with the Queen. He asked the royal: “Have you seen my mum?”
Simon, now 53, from Swindon, recalls: “One minute I was holding Mum’s hand and the next minute I’d lost her.
“I decided to push through the crowd and see if I could find her. I soon came up to the front of a barrier – the very second Her Majesty was there.
“I remember she shook my hand and all I could say was, ‘Have you seen my mum?’ It seems mad as I knew this lady was the Queen. I don’t suppose I thought she’d know where my mum was. She just looked like a nice, kind adult to ask.”
My uncle’s salute…but he never mentioned it
THE Queen was still in official mourning when Lyn Mabbs’ uncle Geoffrey Bailey saluted her as she stepped from the royal flight in 1952.
Geoffrey, from Clutton, Somerset, was an engineer at RAF Benson, Oxon, home of the Queen’s Flight.
Lyn says: “My uncle died in 1996 when he was 80 but the story goes that he was at RAF Benson and was one of only a few in uniform that day. So he was asked to stand at the steps and salute Her Majesty as she disembarked.
“He never spoke about it and we only found out after he passed away when we saw this picture.”
I was a 6ft woman barging in on her but she didn’t bat an eyelid
ANNABEL DAWSON nearly bashed into the Queen at a dinosaur exhibition – and apologised, only to be greeted with a smile.
Annabel, now 71, from Durham, had visited the show as a trainee teacher in 1973, not knowing Her Majesty was there to open it. She says: “The crowd seemed a bit thick so I started moving through, pushed past a few policemen – and came face to face with the Queen.
“I was mortified and backed away, apologising. But she didn’t bat an eyelid at a 6ft woman barging in – she just kept smiling.”
My passing joke with her & Philip ended up on Nine O’Clock News
DAVID PHILP looked after the Queen’s catering on her trips to the theatre. One night in the West End in 1970 he was told refreshments would not be required as there would be no interval, with the Queen needing to get away early.
David, 79, from Fife, says: “Her Majesty said, ‘I’m sorry we won’t be seeing you this evening, we’re catching the train to Scotland’. Being Scottish myself, I joked, ‘I know, Ma’am, my bag is packed’.
“She and Prince Philip laughed and I didn’t think much more about it – until I heard the line had made the Nine O’Clock News.”
My lad’s once-in-a-lifetime chance to see walkabout
SONIA MANNING, 53, of Morley, Leeds, and her son Nathan, 20, saw Her Majesty during a walkabout in the city in July 2012.
She says: “We didn’t speak to her but we were inches away. It’s a day we’ll both remember as long as we live.
“Nathan had his Year Six end-of-term play on that date and I asked him which one he’d rather do – be in the play or see the Queen.
“He jumped at the chance to see her, saying it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and he didn’t want to miss it.”
‘She held a half-glass of wine all evening and I never once saw her put it to her lips’
AFTER winning a Local Hero award, retired milkman Keith Bunn was invited to a Christmas reception at Buckingham Palace where he learned how the Queen supports rural delivery men and women.
Keith, now 77, who met the Queen in December 2004, says: “When my time came, I told her I was a rural milkman and had been working in the community since 1973. I’ll never forget her response.
“She told me how important those services were. She said lots of older people were lonely and sometimes the postman and milkman were the only friendly faces they saw.
“She was absolutely right.”
Keith, who retired in 2008, keeps his palace invitation framed at his home in Ludlow, Shrops. He says: “She’s such an incredible lady.
“She had half a glass of wine all evening and I never once saw her put it to her lips.”
Queen perched on our sofa for tea and cakes
LUCY and Billy Llewellyn named their three-bed council house “RoyVista” – short for Royal Visitor – so they would never forget the day the Queen and Prince Philip came to tea.
Their son Brian, now 67, still remembers everything about those 20 minutes in May 1960 when the Queen visited his family’s new home in County Durham.
Newton Aycliffe was one of the new towns that had sprung up across Britain to house young families like the Llewellyns.
The Queen, who three months earlier had given birth to Prince Andrew, was due to open the newly built town hall and decided she would also have tea with an ordinary family.
Brian says: “Mam was told to make an ‘ordinary tea’ — nothing fancy — but she had to spend four pence on a lemon, which was a lot back then, because the Queen didn’t take milk in her tea.
“I’d spent the week before they arrived practising my bow but also teaching my two-year-old sister Joy to curtsey.
“But when the Queen came into the front room and held out her hand, I bowed, curtsied and shook her hand at the same time. I must have looked a right sight.”
Before her death in 2010, Lucy recalled: “I remember her standing at the kitchen door as I made the tea and thinking, ‘Good God, so much weight on such a small pair of shoulders’.”
The Queen perched on the arm of the sofa as Lucy served tea and home-made fairy cakes while kids Brian, then six, Joy plus Tony, ten, and David, nine, watched.
Like many men back then, dad Billy and Prince Philip retreated to the shed in the garden. There, railway worker Billy talked to the duke about his side-job as a Punch & Judy man.
While the Queen and Brian’s mum chatted, there was a knock at the front door.
Brian says: “I can’t remember what Mam and the Queen were chatting about but I got up to answer it.
It was an equerry who asked me ‘Are their Majesties ready?’ I said ‘No, they’re not’ and slammed the door in his face. And Brian, who now lives in nearby Darlington, still has the cup and saucer the Queen used nearly 62 years ago.
He says: “After the Queen’s visit, Mam always insisted on a sit-down tea on a Sunday and if one of us used Her Majesty’s cup, we had to drink with our pinky finger extended.”