Queen Elizabeth II: Whether you are a monarchist or not, she was UK's calm centre and we will miss her – Susan Morrison
Something has changed. Even people like me who regard the monarchy with vague indifference felt a strange sense of loss when the news broke last week.
I suppose it was a bit of a shock. I mean, we all knew she was getting on, but there were those lovely photos of her with prime ministers bowing out and bowing in and through it all there was, as ever, the Queen. I wonder now what effort lay behind that beaming smile.
And then, she was gone.
But throughout my entire life, she’s always been there.
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When I was a child, I remember watching her on Pathe news at the cinema. She always seemed to be wearing a tiara and on her way into yet another premier of yet another film. I used to wonder if she wore those long elegant gloves to stop her choc ice running onto her fingers. Mine did.
One of my grannies was a huge fan. The house was dominated by pictures of the younger Queen. One in particular was her favourite. It was a plate with an image of Her Majesty taking the salute, sitting side-saddle and dressed in military scarlet.
Granny told me that one word from her and the whole army would attack, and I think she believed that. I remembered that wee story years later when Donald Trump committed the diplomatic crime of walking in front of the Queen whilst they were inspecting the guard.
The guys in bearskins hats might look decorative, but there are live rounds in those guns. One crisp command and you won’t make that mistake again, Donald.
As she and I grew older, to me she became a strange mix between my other granny and Annie Walker, the fearsome chatelaine of the Rovers Return on Coronation Street.
All three had that regal tilt of the head, that crisp hairdo, and ran their world on their terms. Nobody put down a glass in my granny's house, the Rovers or, I bet, Balmoral, without putting a coaster under it.
It's still slightly unreal. Even now, I turn on the telly and half expect Huw Edwards to be spaffing on about the queen visiting a children's nursery in Merthyr Tydfil or see her standing beside some visiting president after one of those huge state dinners.
What on Earth did she talk about during those 15-course marathons? No-one’s telling me those big bashes were fun, even though she smiled all the way through them. She couldn’t even get merry on the sherry.
Naturally, I went through my angry phase when I became a student at Stirling University. Well, we all did. The campus had been the scene of a mini-riot a few years earlier.
Some students protested against a royal visit, doing the usual student protesty things, waving placards, shouting stuff and generally being a bit, well, studenty. As a result, Stirling had a reputation for being a hotbed of bolshie anarchy, which it actually wasn’t. Not whilst the bar was open, at any rate. I looked at photos of that day recently, and I’m struck by the fact that her smile is still there, oblivious to the racket behind her.
And perhaps that’s what even people like me, no great fans of monarchy, will miss. That calm centre.
Something has changed.