On the sad occasion of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, my memories came flooding back and I would like to share these with you.
I feel privileged to have been alive during the whole of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. When I was 10 years old I entered an essay competition in Liverpool and won my division for my essay about the British Monarchy so I have been a fan for a long time. In 1953 when the Queen was crowned everyone on our street in Speke, Liverpool finally got a television set and we settled down to watch the Coronation in glorious black and white.
Looking back I am honoured and amazed to see that I met Her Majesty eight or nine times and each time she impressed me with her great sense of humour combined with great dignity. These times were:
Firstly, when The Beatles got the MBE on 26th October 1965. I remember us being taken aside and shown what the correct protocol was. We were told how to approach Her Majesty and not to talk to her unless she talks to us. For four Liverpool lads, it was, “Wow, hey man.”
The next time we met was some years later at the Royal Albert Hall on 13th December 1982. It was at an event Linda and I attended called An Evening for Conservation. Part of the evening included some orchestral re-workings of some Beatles songs and I remember chatting with Her Majesty about them. She also re-introduced me to Prince Philip who said he remembered our previous meeting in the sixties!
Our third meeting would come in the next decade. In June 1996 The Queen graciously agreed to open the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts on the site of my old school that George Harrison and myself attended. She also had previously given a donation which the school was very honoured to receive.
Just one year later and our next encounter was a very proud day for me. It was one of the best days ever. I felt very honoured to be offered a Knighthood and of course it would have been rude to turn it down! I remember it was in the springtime and the skies were blue. It was a wonderful day and I remember thinking I’d come a long way from a little terrace house in Liverpool!
It was a new millennium the next time we were together again and what an occasion it was! Celebrating her Golden Jubilee, we got to rock out in her garden. As Her Majesty was on stage receiving applause at the end of the show I joked, ‘Well I suppose this will be happening next year then?’ to which she replied, ‘Not in my garden it won’t!’
We were to see each other again shortly afterwards, but this time on my home turf! I was very honoured to be given a painting exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery, which John and I had visited on many occasions as students. It was my extreme privilege to be able to show Her Majesty around the gallery.
A decade on and Nancy and I attended a special event titled Celebration of the Arts at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and it was a thrill as ever to talk with Her Majesty.
On June 4th 2012, The Queen would celebrate her Diamond Jubilee and it was so special in many ways. This was the first time I performed in front of her since her last Jubilee, and seeing all the people stretching down Pall Mall was great, as was meeting other members of the Royal Family afterwards. It was a great weekend to be British.
Our last meeting came in 2018. Because of my respect and love for the Queen and her fabulous sense of humour when I was given the Companion of Honour medal I shook her hand, leaned in and said, ‘We have got to stop meeting like this,’ to which she giggled slightly and got on with the ceremony. I did wonder if I was a bit too cheeky after saying this, after all this was The Queen, but I have a feeling she didn’t mind.
God bless you. You will be missed.