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Queen’s Funeral Triggers Memory of Royal Encounter – Do You Have Any to Share?

Published on: 19 Sep, 2022
Updated on: 20 Sep, 2022

Today’s funeral of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is certain to have triggered much reflection including memories of any encounters with the Queen, from waving at a passing car to attending a royal reception or garden party or even receiving an honour.

Our Effingham reporter Chris Dick has contributed a recollection from his mother’s diary about a royal visit to Ethiopia.

Kenneth and Pamela Dick

Chris writes: “The Queen had accepted an invitation in February 1965 to visit a cotton plantation in the heart of the Danakil Desert of Ethiopia. My parents Kenneth and Pamela Dick were the hosts and the stress level had risen a few notches when His Imperial Majesty Haile Sellaise, the then Emperor of Ethiopia, informed my father that he too would be attending this Royal visit.

“Everything had to be flown 400 miles from Addis Ababa to make the visit the success it turned out to be … but nothing ever goes quite according to plan. For example, 70 members of the international press and TV were apparently never reunited with their films which had become mislaid in transit. That said, thanks to one member of staff we have a record of this visit. But this was not the only hiccup of the day.

“Happily, shortly before her sad passing, the Queen was able to relive these ancient events as a link was sent to her. And, her Majesty was kind enough to pass on her thanks.”

Dragon readers are invited to send in accounts of their interactions, or that of their family, with Queen Elizabeth II. Please use the Leave a Reply Feature below.

The following is an extract from Pamela Dick’s diary, February 3rd, 1965…

Finally word came (by fast runner) that the Royal Party were only two minutes away. Quickly we whipped away the plastic bowl from the bedroom and I went to set wide the double front doors. Unbelievably, I couldn’t open them more than usual – they were wedged with dust underneath and we hadn’t rehearsed that bit!

It didn’t really matter.

The Queen arrived, plus Miss Morrison. I showed them down the passage to the Schlatholt’s bedroom, where the former explained in pleasure at its dainty luxury.

Within seconds the Duke arrived and strode energetically into the spare room. He could hardly have washed his hands, he was out so quickly, immediately demanding large-scale maps and asking searching questions. Fortunately Ken was available to answer the questions and Mr. Schlatholt had the maps.

In a few more minutes The Queen joined us in the sitting room, where we planned to await the Emperor’s arrival, as he was washing in Congdon’s villa.

“Would Your Majesty care for a drink now while we are waiting” asked Ken.

“Thank you – what have you got?” says his charming beautiful guest. “Oh anything Marm – gin & tonic, Pimms, whiskey and soda, brandy” says the Managing Director airily.

“Gin and tonic would be lovely,” says Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip echoes: “And the same for me please.”

My lordly husband looks at me (hovering nervously in the background) and I vanish to the Ghion wine waiter.

“Two Gin and Tonics with ice.” I order confidently (for we had been warned by Sir Edward Ford that The Queen preferred this) … “but we have no tonics Mrs. Dick!” says the Ghion waiter.

Emperor Haile Sellaise between the Queen and Prince Phillip.

Someone from Tendaho had told the Ghion not to bother with soft drinks, which were available on the estate, but no one had mentioned this to me. I believe there were two hundred dozen somewhere, but just at that moment they were not at Schlatholt’s villa. There was no telephone and no driver who could fetch them. I died a million deaths of shame and embarrassment at that instant, but then my good angel Mrs. Schlatholt found two bottles in her own store and so two tumblers were produced.

Sixty guests waited in a queue at the garden entrance with the thought of a long cool drink uppermost in their minds. The Lady-in-Waiting, the Detective, the Schlatholts and I were all gasping for a drink but there was nothing except neat spirit.

“You haven’t got a drink Mr. Dick!” said The Queen. Someone got him one. To this minute I don’t know how but the Duke heard me, confess the absurd situation to Miss Morrison, and laughed with genuine enjoyment. It put him in good temper for the rest of the day. I think everything had been too inhumanly perfect till then.

The next fifteen minutes seem incredible to look back on. We all strolled out of the house to look at the garden and the river, so quiet, empty, still and beautiful in the sunlight. All the royal party seemed to revel in the peace. We watched for crocodiles and birds and saw a family of near-naked Danakils ford the river some distance away. The Queen sent the Duke to fetch her cine camera and filmed the river and garden enthusiastically.

Then, to, our amusement, she filmed the magnificent cold buffet set out most artistically by the Ghion chef.

No one could be presented – no one could even enter the garden until the Emperor arrived and I thought he would never come. The Queen sat on the low wall or parapet above the river and just chatted with the Duke and Ken. The Schlatholts effaced themselves and I gossiped with Miss Morrison and Detective Perkins.

The late Queen enjoying the conversation with the “Lion of Ethiopia”. The man in the background is probably Detective Perkins.

At last the Emperor arrived. We went to receive him and I learned that he didn’t want a drink – thank goodness. Ken immediately started with The Queen, the Duke and the Emperor on a tour of the garden, presenting many of the MC senior personnel (including Margaret Titford). He also presented our business associates from America Mr. & Mrs. Tom Taylor.

Tafara Worq had set out the VIP lunch table with precise instructions as to who should sit alongside whom but of his original twelve, only eight were present so substitutes were named by him (one of which included me). The Emperor’s granddaughter Princess Sybil was ordained as a replacement but not his grandson, Alexander Desta – not even as fourth reserve!

The Queen’s endearing smile

The tour of the guests took only a few minutes, then, in strict order of precedence, food was chosen at the buffet. The Emperor stood well back – like a maitre d’ hotel might – while The Queen chose a modest plateful. He also eats very little and, being a Wednesday which is a meatless day for his religion, his choice was limited. However, a glance at the menu (which does not even mention the beautiful vegetarian dishes) will prove that he was not to be pitied.

By the time precedence permitted Kenneth and me to visit the buffet the royal guests had almost finished their platefuls. I was too churned up anyway to feel like eating – even caviar.

We sat next to each other at the left-hand end and I had General Mesfin on the other side. He is an unpleasant character who speaks neither English nor French, but Princess Sybil and the Crown Prince talked to us both across him.

Waiters served us the sweets and coffee, while the remaining fifty-odd guests helped themselves from a second buffet table at the opposite end of the garden and sat with whom they wished at tables for four. Red and white wine flowed freely by this time and with no press admitted, we could all relax and enjoy ourselves (except for Kenneth and me.)

To our great delight, Atu Sale from our Addis office, who is a keen photographer was given permission to take three colour shots – our only good souvenirs of the occasion.

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