Opinion  

The Queen, a 4-year-old and a lasting legacy

Simoney Kyriakou

Simoney Kyriakou

No newsroom editor could say they are ever unprepared for the passing of a monarch, but it is a whole different matter when it happens.

For the majority of people in Britain - perhaps in the world - Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was the only British monarch and Head of the Commonwealth that we have ever known.

She will certainly be the only Queen of England that I will have known, given the line of ascendancy.

Her reign defined many things to many people, but for people like me, born in a Jubilee Year (1977 in my case), there is something different about marking celebrations and anniversaries and special occasions.

For my birth I was given a special Silver Jubilee medal coin. I recently bought one for my son to mark the Platinum Jubilee. 

Whisked away to Canada when I was seven weeks old, I had the great privilege of meeting the Queen when she visited Ottawa in 1982, for the Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982.

A local paper at the time actually interviewed me as the 'youngest royalist' to meet the Queen - I think I was given some flowers to hand to her for a photo opportunity.

My family always found it ironic that the newspaper reporter ended up speaking to the only child in the audience with a Queen's English accent.

When we came back to the UK in the late 1980s, the Queen's Speech and the Christmas Message were compulsory viewing in our household.

My late uncle Leo would sigh and roll his eyes when the family stood for the National Anthem, which I still do to this day, though all the adults back then only did it to annoy Leo.

I think I do it now from sentimental habit; certainly the Christmas dinner must be eaten before the message is broadcast. 

My next brush with royalty was in 1995, when I headed to St James's Palace to receive my Gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award from the late Duke himself. 

He was amused that I was wearing a tartan dress, while my geography teacher was wearing a tartan beret - neither of which was the Edinburgh tartan. I still remember him joking with us - and thinking to myself 'He's much shorter in real life'.

Did these early experiences make me a Royalist? I would not say that I am, particularly.

I think I am a Queenist. I have - I had - a great affection for the Queen. I have shed tears over the death of someone whose presence has always been in my life, to varying extents.

I have waved flags on every subsequent Royal Occasion. I think I have seen every Royal Wedding. My mother and I stood for eight hours outside Westminster Cathedral in a surreal silence despite the crowds gathered to mourn Princess Diana's death.