• The Queen

    I had the good fortune to meet the Queen on a number of occasions when I was a British MP. The occasion that made the greatest impression on me, however, was one in which I was merely an observer.

    The hospital in my Southampton constituency had acquired an important new facility and a ceremony was arranged at which the Queen was to open it. I was among a considerable number guests who were invited to attend and who assembled in a small lecture theatre. The Queen had arrived and was welcomed. Shortly before the proceedings were to begin, a small middle-aged woman entered the room. She seemed somewhat flustered, since it was a cardinal rule that no one should arrive after the monarch, and she became even more flustered as she began to search for a space on the tiered benches where she could sit – but no such space could be found.

    Eventually, a couple of kind people shuffled along and she was able to find a seat. I was seated to one side and slightly above the room, and so had a good view of this proceeding and of the Queen’s reaction. As the woman settled with a sigh of relief into her seat, I saw the Queen deliberately catch her eye, and smile at her. The woman smiled back and relaxed.

    We no doubt expected many qualities from our sovereign – dignity, grace, charm, poise and composure. How fortunate we were to find kindness as well!

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