It seems unreal that just a few months ago we were celebrating the remarkable Platinum Jubilee of the Queen
The announcement of her death, just days after she was pictured welcoming a new Prime Minister, came as something of a shock.
And whether you’re a fan of the Royal Family or not, the impact that the monarch has had on our lives can certainly be felt. Not least because she has always been there, the constant in an ever-changing landscape, the reassuring presence, the face on our money and our stamps and the subject of our National Anthem, God Save the Queen.
Following the announcement mourners flocked to Buckingham Palace and many of the other royal residences to lay flowers and just sit in quiet thought and contemplation.
No doubt people everywhere have been reflecting on what she meant to them, and those lucky enough to have met her have had wonderful memories to share.
During her life the Queen visited our region on many occasions, bringing pleasure to thousands of residents across Stoke and Staffordshire.
There was 1955, for example, when she arrived at Stoke City FC. She had an audience of 30,000 schoolchildren packed into the old Victoria Ground, being the first reigning monarch to visit the Potteries for 30 years since when her grandfather King George had visited Stoke-on-Trent in 1925.
She said: “I was nine. Two Brownies from every pack in Stoke were chosen to line the steps where she was doing her official opening and I was one of them. I remember the day, it was very surreal, everything seemed so big. A soldier with a gun stopped my mum’s car to ask where we were going as she dropped me off that day. It was pretty exciting though. The garden festival was really colourful. There was a pagoda, a mini Blackpool tower and cable cars! I know when the Queen left, she went on a barge from the marina and we waved her off! I felt very important that day.”
There was also a memorable visit to Rugeley when the train broke down and the Queen thought it was hilarious, and a day-long visit to Stafford, where she enjoyed a service at St Mary’s Church and a lunch at the County Buildings. People packed out the Market Square to get a glimpse of her and were thrilled when she spent time to talking to them.
It’s only fitting that a national online book of condolence will be available to sign on the British Monarchy website and there will be places to sign locally across Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent, including the Kings Hall in Stoke, Lichfield Cathedral and St Mary’s Church, Stafford.
Meanwhile, we must now adjust to having a King, as Prince Charles takes on his new role. For those of us who have only known a Queen it will feel odd, our anthem becoming God Save the King, our money featuring a new face.
How strange to think that babies born now will now never know anything other than a King, nor will they experience that enduring and abiding presence of the woman we all knew. A Queen who performed her duties so admirably and with dignity, a Queen who never faltered in the face of difficulty, and a Queen that had tea with Paddington – and kept a marmalade sandwich in her handbag!
Rest in Peace Your Majesty.