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The day I met The Queen

Clayhidon Local History Group set parishioners a challenge
to celebrate Her Majesty's 90th birthday in 2016:
'Describe the day you met the Queen'
Here is how the parish responded

1. A ploughman's story

In 1978 David Persey competed in the All England Horse Ploughing Championship Match at Windsor Great Park. 

“The Queen arrived in a very shiny open-top vehicle and started walking along greeting the ploughmen. I was concentrating on the furrow I was ploughing and didn’t notice that the vehicle was parked at the end of my plot and only looked up in time to shout “whoah” to stop them about two feet short of the car. The crowd around us gave a very audible sigh of relief. The Queen was coming along the line of ploughmen, shaking hands with them and just saying hello. She then came to me, shook hands and asked me several questions about my horses. She was particularly interested in Chi because he was smaller than the rest. She asked if I had bred him and whether I rode him and said that she liked his name. It was a very memorable day.” 

2. Speechless in front of a Lady in Waiting

Brian and Margaret Wheaton’s thrill in attending a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in July 2008 was described. “The National Anthem was played, the Queen arrived at 4 o’clock and made a small number of individual presentations. The Gentlemen at Arms formed lanes for the Royal Family to move among the guests.

“The Lady in Waiting who accompanied Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, spoke to Margaret, which was a great delight. Margaret, in her humility, was unable to explain why she had been invited, although anyone who knew her recognised that it was because of their efforts to charity and particularly to Vranch House, in Exeter.

“Brian and Margaret were able to speak to strangers as they sat at the white linen covered tables, eating delightful tiny cakes, each one meticulously measured. The organisation of it all was astonishing.”

3. The Queen turned and looked straight at us
Michael Osmund, former clerk to Clayhidon Parish Council, described arriving with neighbour Ray Drew for a Royal Garden Party in July 2010. “I thought at first we were going by the side of the palace to the lawn area of 40 acres, but after going through another courtyard we were at the grand portico, the official entrance used by heads of state. Up the red carpeted stairs we went into the Palace.

“From the stairs we went along the corridor lined with paintings of former princes in uniforms from the days when Queen Victoria ruled, into a reception room with shelves of china and more portraits and out onto the grand balcony above the lawn for the afternoon event. . ." 

Mike describes how the garden party ended: “We went up to the corner of the lawn as this was the point the Royal Family had to pass in return to the palace. As the Queen and her party came up on our side of the path she turned and looked straight at us. We were very close at that point. Then it was the National Anthem to conclude the day.”

4.The excitement and respect everyone feels

George and Valerie Slabbert (left), of Bar Park,
and Doug and Paula Goodship (right), of Rosemary Lane, were invited to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party in recognition of George and Doug’s service in 243 Field Hospital. 
“When we arrived at the Palace we took our place in the queue of people waiting to the side of the gates, only to be promptly ushered inside as all military uniforms were considered a target for terrorists. As you cross the inner courtyard you become aware of the sense of excitement and respect everyone feels . . .
"Although we did not get the chance to speak to the Queen we all felt it had been an honour and a privilege to be invited. We were made to feel very special and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.”

5. In rows, five or six deep, trying to catch a glimpse
Julie Bullett felt the same sense of pride when she went as companion to her father, who had been invited to a Palace garden party in recognition of his 46 years of voluntary service to the British Horse Society. They also did not actually meet the Queen. “About a dozen people were presented to Her Majesty and the royal party. The rest of us were in rows six or seven deep trying to catch a glimpse!”

6. We had seen The Queen, and she had spoken to us!
Maureen Bendle and her teenage daughters Hayley and Catherine were luckier in 1983 when they took posies of primroses from the fields of Clayhidon to Exeter Cathedral, where Mrs Collard, of Clayhidon, was among those chosen to receive Maundy Money from the Queen. “As the crowds grew so did the excitement and suddenly there she was – a lovely and tiny lady in a gorgeous deep fuchsia pink – and, better still, she was walking towards us!
“As she accepted the posies she asked the girls if they had picked them and they, as so many others have said on similar occasions, were completely ‘stage struck’! But we had seen the Queen and she had spoken to us!” 

7. I bowed my head and walked three steps backwards
Susan Doggett met Her Majesty when she was awarded a medal for her work with the Blackdown Support Group. “To my amazement a palace official said ‘Hello Susan, last time I saw you was at Upottery Carnival’. It transpired she had a weekend cottage in the area. This put me at my ease and made a warm connection with me and our beloved Blackdowns and home.
“I waited by the entrance to the Ballroom until I heard the words 'Mrs Susan Doggett'. I walked forward along the red carpet. The Queen was standing on a raised platform (she is tiny) surrounded by the sea of red and gold of the Yeomen of the Guard.
“The Queen was dressed in a simple blue dress, and as I stood there before her she asked me what the Blackdown Support Group did. I explained as best I could. She then took my medal and pinned it on my dress. She shook my hand. I bowed my head and walked three steps backward (very difficult!).
“What a wonderful day, but I wish all the members of the Blackdown Support Group could have been with me as it was as much in their honour as it was mine.”

8. 1965:The Blackmores are invited to the Palace