A LIFE-LONG royalist has shared her memories of meeting the late Queen Elizabeth II during an official visit to Warwick in 1996 – and this hasn’t been her only brush with the monarchy.
Christine Clarke was 54-years-old when Queen Elizabeth visited the town, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip. The royal couple embarked on a tour of the Lord Leycester Hospital, Warwick Castle and St Michael’s Hospital before taking a walkabout of the town, during which she is documented as chatting to several members of the public.
One such person was Christine, who at the time was living in Kenilworth, but was working at a GP’s surgery in Warwick.
She told the Observer:” I was working at the Old Dispensary in Castle Street at the time and the doctor had let us out for an hour to see the Queen. I was stood at the corner of Castle Street by the jewellers and I could see the Queen walking down the high street on the other side of the road, with the Duke dawdling on behind.
“When I saw her on the other side of the road, I thought, that’s a shame. But then I saw next to me there was an old lady in a wheelchair and I knew her as she was a patient at the surgery, and I knew she was 102-years-old.
“So I caught the Queen’s eye and I sort of beckoned her over. My friend who was standing next to her said to me ‘you can’t do that’, and I said, ‘well I just did’.
“And the Queen came over and I said to her ‘this lady is 102-years-old and she’s come out to see you today’.
“The Queen said something along the lines of ‘Oh how nice’ and she began chatting to the old lady.”
It was at this moment that one of Christine’s friends took a photograph of the Queen, which Christine has kept stored away all these years and hadn’t thought about again until last week, when the news of the Queen’s death broke.
Christine continued: “My friend who was standing behind me took a photograph of her chatting to the old lady and it was such a beautiful photograph, and she had such a beautiful smile. It was a real close up. And that was it.
“I didn’t see the photos for a couple of weeks because you had to send them away in those days to be developed and when I saw them I was just amazed. But I put them away and I just forgot about them – until now.”
Christine, who has been a life-long admirer of Queen Elizabeth and the royal family, said she was deeply saddened at the news of her death.
“I was shattered when I heard the news. We all thought she would go on forever didn’t we.”
And Christine’s encounter with the Queen in Warwick in 1996 hasn’t been her only brush with royalty. She also saw the Queen’s father, King George VI, when he visited Leamington in the 1950s.
She said: “I saw her father. Not face-to-face but I saw him when he was at Leamington railway station. It must have been 1950 something.
“A car drew up and the Queen Mother got out and she walked into the station. The crowd were chanting “we want the King, we want the King”, and he came back out and he waved to the crowd.
“I saw the Coronation on the television and I remember vividly listening to the wedding of Princess Elizabeth on the radio, which was quite something in those days.
“I said to my son the other day, you know you will never see another queen in your lifetime. It’s definitely the end of an era.”
Christine added: “I think King Charles will do a wonderful job. He has certainly waited long enough. When he gave his first official speech and he referred to his ‘darling mama’ – well, I was moved to tears.”