Life events

HM Queen Elizabeth II – my memories

Like many millions of people, this week has been one of profound sadness. The sense of loss – akin to losing a family member – is acute.

However, unlike the loss of a parent or grandparent, when it’s possible to get together as a family, to share stories, to remember those personal moments, the passing of the Queen has generated an entirely different feeling.

The Royal Family is not my family. But through 25 years of military service she was elevated to something unique in my subconscious.

I toasted our Head of State hundreds of times, from all corners of the world, as if to reaffirm my vow to her as a serving Army Officer. I pledged to serve her, to serve the United Kingdom and, if necessary, to lay down my life as a part of my service to Queen and Country. Such old fashioned sentiments, but impossible to describe in any other way. My commission, signed by Elizabeth R, hangs proudly on my wall.

The eternal nature of her presence, that sense that she would always be here, watching over the nation, guiding it through the highs and the lows of modern life, was captured perfectly by Boris Johnson MP in the House of Commons yesterday. His speech, delivered so eloquently, touched on so many of the feelings I have had since hearing the news.

For members of the Armed Forces and veterans, who have willingly boarded ships or aircraft and travelled to foreign climes, knowing that harm was likely to stand in their way, losing the Queen is particularly sad.

In my house I have a photograph from the day I stood in front of the Sovereign at my Investiture. In fact I have two. The first, in profile, shows me standing proudly, while Her Majesty hooked my MBE onto my medal ribbon. It was one of the proudest moments in my life. The second photo, taken from behind the Queen, shows my face in full surprise mode as I reacted instinctively to the question she asked me.

Two photographs; one which captures the solemnity with which she fulfilled her duties, the other an example of how she could put people at ease with only a few words. There will never be another like her.

God Save The King!

By Ade Clewlow MBE

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