What is Queen Elizabeth II like in person?
I once had lunch with The Queen (OK, along with about 100 other people in a large room). There’s an etiquette that people should stop eating when The Queen stops. She is known to take care that she keeps the food going round on her plate until everyone’s had a proper opportunity to eat. After lunch, she made a point to meet up with and thank all of the waiting staff and those who had cooked the lunch. So, from that experience, she does seem mindful of others and appreciative of those who work hard at such events.
I live not far from Balmoral Castle, which is the Queen’s private residence in the Scottish Highlands.
What we find is that the Queen is a courteous, hard working “wee wifie” who is a good neighbour and treats others with decency. She uses local suppliers, she always supports the Braemar Highland Gathering, attends the local “Kirk” (Church of Scotland), and she lets young people go for “Duke of Edinburgh” expeditions on the estate. That makes her part of the local community, which is quite protective of her and respects her privacy.
However, my favourite tale is this. The Royals sometimes travel about the local area with minimal fuss. She stopped her Landrover for a picnic on a track some distance from the road. There isn’t a lot of passing traffic, but on this occasion a family of walkers came upon but didn’t recognise her. On a “day off”, she looks much the same as the other local elderly ladies in her tweeds and waxed jackets.
“Goodness!”, said the mother, “you look just like that lady on the stamps”.
“So I’ve been told”, said the Queen with a kindly smile as she continued to sip tea from her Thermos flask.
There was a nice little story which emerged some years ago, when Prince William was a very little boy, I think about two or three years old. He had apparently been playing in Buckingham Palace, had fallen down and hurt himself, and was crying inconsolably. He was immediately surrounded by concerned maids and other household staff trying to comfort him, but he didn’t want any of them, only Gary.
Nobody was sure who Gary was - possibly one of the footmen? - but then a voice was heard, saying, “Let me through, please. I’m Gary.” And they made way for the Queen, because ‘Granny’ can be quite hard for a little boy to say!