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Memories Of A Sovereign

Kevan James

September 15, 2022.

I have never known a time when Queen Elizabeth II was not reigning over the United Kingdom. I'm not alone in that of course; most people alive today fall into the same category.

I am a child of the jet age. Of the modern era. I am somebody who knows only of the colourful world we now inhabit. I didn't grow up in post-WWII deprivation, with outside toilets and no central heating. Actually I was lucky - my Dad was a broadcaster with the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) and having been born in a British Military Hospital - in Nicosia, Cyprus in case you wondered - my entire childhood was spent in British military environments in Cyprus and Germany. All that is, bar five years in London. And it was a good upbringing in services communities in both Cyprus and Germany. Pretty much everything we needed was catered for rather well. Family quarters were very good.

Running throughout that time was one consistent thread; everything had 'On Her Majesty's Service' on it. Or at the least the initials, 'OHMS'. The only time that ever changed was the James Bond movie OHMSS, which stood of course for, 'On her Majesty's Secret Service'. Even 007 couldn't get away from serving Her Majesty. Not that he ever would have wanted to.

As a slight aside, the only thing that didn't come with OHMS on it somewhere were standard issue service toilet rolls. The material was hard, harsh and crinkly. Nothing soft about it and even an Andrex doggy would have found it tricky. Stamped on every single sheet were the words, 'Government Property'. Most people never used it, preferring the local NAAFI to stick with the puppy's favourite.

The NAAFI, for those who may not know, stood for 'Navy, Army and Air Force Institute'. It ran the shops and stores where service community resident could buy everything needed. And buy things free of taxes too.

The initials won't change. Despite the reduction of British Services' activity outside the UK the moniker OHMS will still apply, except the 'H' will now mean 'His' - On His Majesty's Service. It will take some getting used to.

And that's the thing, right there; Queen Elizabeth II reigned for so long - 70 years.

It's a length of service that I don't think will ever be surpassed and since she came to the throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II wove her way into the hearts, minds and affections of just about everybody, within the United Kingdom and elsewhere around the world. She did so by her dedication to duty, her selflessness, her ability to relate to everybody she met, not to mention her sense of humour.

I never met Her Majesty, never had reason, occasion or opportunity to. But I wish I had. I suppose many people might well feel the same and will still feel a sense of loss, despite never meeting or knowing her personally. That particular aspect doesn't really matter. Those who have queried that sense of loss felt over somebody they never knew are missing the point. Queen Elizabeth II was our sovereign, she was always a part of our lives. She was always there. And it counted for something.

An intangible something perhaps but it still counted.

And we will miss her. I will miss my Christmas routine, what I always said when asked after the day if I had a good Christmas; "Yes, quiet and peaceful," I replied. "As usual I had lunch with the Queen."

I'm absolutely convinced that Her Majesty would not mind my munching away while watching and listening to her Christmas broadcast but saying I had lunch with her had a ring to it. It will be different now.

We will get used to King Charles III, and one hopes and believes that he will not only inherit his place on the throne but also his Mother's view on what it means to be the UK Head of State. That he will do as she did - in regular meetings with the Prime Minister, of course the monarch will offer views on what's going on, and yes, advice too. The Queen most certainly did. But he will otherwise hold his counsel in public and serve in the same neutral way, with the same dedication and diligence.

That's what I remember most about Her Majesty - dedication and diligence. And her humour. And I'm quite sure the King won't mind if I tell people I had lunch with him on Christmas Day.

Farewell Queen Elizabeth II.

© Kevan James 2022

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