Queen Elizabeth: I'm sure I bored her when we met, but she didn't show it. She was always well-informed, curious and concerned – John McLellan
When we learnt Queen Elizabeth was to open the new Holyrood Road offices of Scotsman Publications in 1999, we all presumed The Scotsman would get all the attention and this paper would be somewhat in the shadows.
But then we learnt that no, the Palace had made it clear that Her Majesty would be coming to the Evening News, while the Duke of Edinburgh would be touring The Scotsman. Scotland on Sunday had to make do with Donald Dewar.
As the Evening News editor of the time, that meant I would be conducting the visit and while I’m sure she was bored by my explanation of modern newspaper production, she never showed it.
If anything, it was more nerve-wracking having the boss, Andrew Neil, on my shoulder as we tried to produce a paper with a front-page picture of her arrival in time for her departure an hour later. We missed by ten minutes.
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Pictures show me with a strapped hand, broken the Saturday before playing rugby, and she asked what I’d done, but what impressed me was she knew about a tragedy days before, when a girl had fallen to her death on Salisbury Crags, and she wanted to know what had happened. She was well-informed, curious and concerned.
I met her again five years ago just after I became a councillor, at the Ceremony of the Keys, and after nearly 20 years, the sparkle and the easy conversation was still there. “You’re wearing a lot better than I, ma’am,” I said.